Connecting the water treatment plant to the source—That was the idea behind the massive concrete mural on the new Evansville Water and Sewer Utility (EWSU) office building that was artfully designed by Hafer architect, Eric Rang. The mural features the Ohio River and its curving, winding shape all the way around the building. The artwork adds interest while also connecting EWSU to the mighty Ohio River.
When designing the project, Eric’s challenge was finding a way to tie the bacteria aerated filtration (BAF) structure to the new office building in a cohesive, creative way. The team sought interesting ways to clad the BAF tanks that would complement the EWSU office. Some ideas included continuing the brickwork on the office building to the BAF structure or adding fax pilasters to give the façade a rhythm—but nothing seemed to work.
That’s when Eric thought about concrete formliners, specifically in the shape of the Ohio River, wrapped around the entire BAF structure as a giant piece of artwork. When he brought the idea to the client and project engineers, they all agreed that the river mural would be the perfect ornamentation to compliment the location of the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility office building. The client loved that the unique solution tells the story about the source of Evansville’s drinking water, where it comes from upstream, and where it goes after it is cleaned and then put back in the environment.
After many iterations, Eric landed on a hand-drawn version of the river that came from looking at the path of the river over time; how the river shapes the earth through erosion, sediment deposition and flooding; and how those changes left an imprint on the landscape. The design shows those changes and the ecology of the areas that surround the river including forested areas, farmlands & urban environments.
The use of concrete formliners is not new to the industry. Normally, a single texture will be formed on a concrete wall like a brick pattern or something to mimic stone. With the EWSU building, the team combined 7 different textures that were cut by waterjet to fit together perfectly. After the concrete was poured and the forms were removed—the art was complete.
The river mural wraps around the entire BAF structure connecting it to the EWSU office building. The City of Evansville is highlighted in orange right next to the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility logo.
To learn more about the project, click here.