a closeup look of the ceiling installation for WMATA

An Installation Shows Washington, D.C. in a New Light

The infrastructure of the nation’s capital inspired an interactive installation by Hou de Sousa at the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority.

A rendering of Aura, a ceiling installation for a government agency headquarters

A rendering of Aura, a ceiling installation, is part of WMATA Triptych by Hou de Sousa, a permanent commission for the government agency’s headquarters.

the making of an installation for WMATA, where a portion of the installation is being painted yellow

It required laser-cutting 32 steel modules, which were welded to­gether, painted with a satin automotive paint, and threaded with colorful rope.

the assembly of one module of an installation for WMATA

The modules were assembled at the Indianapolis studio of fabricator Ignition Arts before being shipped to Washington.

Installers on a pair of scissor lifts attaching the installation to the lobby ceiling

Installers on a pair of scissor lifts attached the modules to the lobby ceiling inside the WMATA headquarters.

large steel plates being welded together for an installation

Back in Indianapolis, large steel plates were welded together to form the base of and seating cavity for Hooray, an outdoor sculpture with an integrated perch.

steel plates welded together to create a seat as part of a larger installation
Smaller steel plates were welded into the piece, the result echoing Washington’s street grid, and then primed and painted.

The Numbers Behind the Installation

  • 10 engineers, welders, and installers led by Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa
  • 10,000 pounds of steel
  • 17,000 linear feet of rope
  • 8 months of fabrication
  • 6 days of of installation

a woman sits in Hooray, a colorful outdoor seating installation

To install the nearly 20-foot-tall Hooray in a small public courtyard in front of the WMATA headquarters, a crane hoisted the 8,200-pound sculpture off a truck bed onto a concrete pedestal, which is supported by pre-embedded anchor rods.

a yellow installation surrounding a tree that doubles as a bench

Nearby is the third piece of the triptych, the 12-foot-long Pebble in hand-forged and laser-cut steel that doubles as a public bench.

a closeup look of the ceiling installation for WMATA

The installation’s colors were based on those of the WMATA metro lines.

looking up to the ceiling of WMATA's headquarters, a blue and yellow installation is on display

The artworks celebrate Washington’s history of urban planning, transit, and infrastructure, from Pierre L’Enfant’s concept for the district to Harry Weiss’s iconic vaulted stations, and their addition to the headquarters was part of its comprehensive renovation by Studios Architecture.

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