Thomas Sayre, Cree Shimmer Wall
“It’s a completely low-tech thing, it’s just the wind.” — Thomas Sayre, principal with the Raleigh design firm Clearscapes
Thomas Sayre grew up in Washington, DC and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in English and studio art. He received a three-year grant from the Ford Foundation to create sculpture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor before attending the MFA program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 1981, with architect Steven D. Schuster, Sayre formed Clearscapes, a multi-disciplinary design firm in Raleigh involved with building, product design and art. Sayre continues to work actively as a sculptor, with pieces in national and international collections.
The Cree Shimmer Wall is a 9,284-square-foot piece of art on the South McDowell Street side of the Raleigh Convention Center. It is made of 79,464 light- and dark-colored aluminum panels that wave in the wind. The image of an oak tree, the symbol of Raleigh, is anodized permanently onto the silver aluminum plates. The design team, including Sayre and artist collaborator Ned Kahn, placed the thousands of 4-inch by 4-inch aluminum panels on hinged louvers in 4-foot by 4-foot grids to allow free motion. The design is 211 feet long by 44 feet tall. To aid nighttime “shimmering,” the wall is backlit with 56 LED fixtures from LED pioneer Cree, who also provided funding for the artwork.Clearscapes Website