November 19, 2010

Rock the Cradle: Ball-Nogues’ Silvery Installation on a Los Angeles Parking Garage

Installing the silvery spheres of Cradle on a Los Angeles garage required a Hollywood-worthy cast of characters. The creators, Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues of Ball-Nogues Studio, naturally take top billing.


They were selected by a committee that included Larry Scarpa of Brooks + Scarpa Architects, design architects. TFO Architecture filled the executive role. And behind the scenes was Frank O. Gehry & Associates, which designed the Santa Monica Place shopping mall and its garage in 1980.


Several renovations later, Omniplan and the Jerde Partnership have transformed the mall into a bright and lively enclave of boutiques and restaurants arrayed around an alfresco plaza, and public art was part of the program.

Typically, Ball-Nogues explores a concept, a material, or a series. Cradle does all three. “We were interested in packing things together and the effect that gravity would have on them,” Ball begins. These notions led to thoughts of the desktop toy called Newton’s cradle, its metal balls suspended on wires from a steel frame to demonstrate the conservation of momentum as identified by Isaac Newton. That’s how 350 hollow orbs of mirror-polished stainless steel came to be the components of Cradle. Varying in size and shape, they hang from cables anchored to a stainless-steel bracket, creating an architectural Rorschach test. Store awning or upsidedown bouquet of balloons? “It looks like a bikini brief,” Nogues offers. Given the beach proximity, his interpretation is probably best.

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