Landmarks commissioned acclaimed artist James Turrell to create a Skyspace for the rooftop of the Student Activity Center at 22nd Street and Speedway. High above the center of the busy university campus, the Skyspace provides a quiet and airy chamber for contemplation.
Turrell’s Skyspace is an elliptical structure of white plaster with an oculus in the ceiling that allows light to penetrate the space. A black basalt bench surrounds the interior, providing a reclined seat from which to contemplate the sky. Custom LED lights illuminate the interior and exterior of the Skyspace. Daily, at dawn and dusk, the lights are programmed to change in intensity and color, simultaneously altering the appearance of the sky through the oculus.
Light is Turrell’s principal medium. His history as a Quaker, experience as a pilot, and education in perceptual psychology, mathematics, and astronomy all contribute to his exploration of light. By including Turrell’s work in the university’s public art collection, Landmarks presents the university community with art that can be experienced as a meditative and spiritual journey.
Lynn Herbert, former senior curator of the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, contributed the artist essay, which provides greater detail about Turrell and his works.
Funding for the Skyspace was provided by the capital improvement project that included the Student Activity Center and the College of Liberal Arts. Numerous individuals lent their support to this project and Landmarks would like to give special thanks to the following: James Turrell, Ryan Pike, Cody Kukulski, Hiram Butler, the College of Liberal Arts, the Student Activity Center and University Unions, OFPC and project managers Andy Adkins, Michael Uyeda, and Paul Cornell, SpawGlass, and the architects, Overland Partners, especially James Lancaster and Rick Archer.
The Student Activity Center was designed by Overland Partners architects who also served as lead architects for the Skyspace. The green roofs that surround the Skyspace were initially designed by Walter Hood and implemented by Bender Wells Clark.