Construction has recently been completed at Westchase Park, a sleek new office building that sits just off the Beltway. The project, built by Simmons Vedder Partners, has been garnering a lot of attention from commuters and residents – but not for reasons you might think.
In the middle of the man-made lake that sits in front of the building, a 32-foot contemporary sculpture rises up: three intersecting elliptical rings (made out of steel to withstand water damage and hurricane-force winds) reflect the sun. Though it was commissioned by Simmons Vedder Partners specifically for Westchase Park tenants, its visibility from the Beltway puts it in the realm of public art.
The sculpture, entitled Synergy, was created by San Antonio-based artist George Schroeder. As Schroeder explains, the inspiration for Synergy was derived from the atmosphere and residents of Westchase itself.
“Synergy represents the area and the people – it adds a certain originality and energy. When you add public art to a commercial building, it personalizes the area, so it’s not just another generic office building,” says Schroeder.
The reason for installing the unique sculpture, says Jeff Pace, VP of Office Development at Simmons Vedder, wasn’t economical. “It would be hard to quantify the value of Synergy in terms of dollars and cents– it’s very subjective. But Simmons Vedder chose to do it because we want Westchase Park to be different in all respects. We wanted to add something that had value to the community at large.”
The making of Synergy was a collaborative process. After consulting with the building and landscape architects, Simmons Vedder Partners contacted Schroeder. The group eliminated several preliminary sketches before approving the concept that would eventually become Synergy.
Synergy was constructed in 12 separate pieces at Schroeder’s San Antonio studio. But transporting and installing the sculpture proved to be difficult, considering the scale of the sculpture. Once completed, the pieces had to be shipped from San Antonio to Houston on four 18-wheelers.
And, getting there was only half the battle. After offloading the sculpture and preparing the foundation, the contracted crew began installation. Using a crane, the crew bolted the sculpture together at the 135 bolt points, often at difficult, unusual angles. It took five days before work was complete and Synergy stood proudly in its new home.
Sherry Fox, VP of Communications at Westchase District, says the District is “thrilled to have such a prominent piece of art on the Beltway, and we want to see more of this kind of art.
Public art, she says, “really ties a community together. It adds a unique new dimension that’s not currently in Westchase District.”
Look for more public works of art like Synergy in the coming years. Fox says “the District will be investigating more public art opportunities – things like murals and mosaics. We’d like to see more public art in libraries, schools, and all over the area.”
Synergy is located in front of Westchase Park, 3600 West Sam Houston Parkway South.