Art on the waterfront - New sculpture installed near Northside Piers development

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Sculptor Mark Gibian, a Roebling Street resident who moved to Williamsburg in 1980, has seen the neighborhood evolve from an outpost for artists to one that attracts a more monied crowd.

So perhaps it is only appropriate that he was chosen to design a public art sculpture at Northside Piers, one of waterfront high-rise developments that symbolize the neighborhood’s change.

Last Thursday, Gibian’s eight-ton sculpture was dramatically air-lifted by a crane and placed at the end of the 400-pier extending from the two-building, 800-unit development.

While the 26-by-16 foot stainless steel sculpture is certainly aesthetic, it is also functional: The two-part sculpture forms a bench and canopy, fulfilling Gibian’s mandate to build a shaded structure at the end of the pier.

Consisting of two graceful opposing crescents held together by triangular trusses, the sculpture is called “Crescendo,” a reference to the crescents and that “it gets louder as it goes up,” according to Gibian.

In an attempt to marry Williamsburg’s industrial past with its future as a neighborhood with waterfront accessibility, Gibian said he wanted the sculpture to evoke both aquatic and industrial forms.

The sculpture’s curved forms are evocative of a ship, while its metal bars call to mind a bridge.

“The forms are very precise – it’s kind of like calligraphy in space,” he described.

The sculpture’s curved metal bars will be filled in with stainless steel mesh material, enabling seating on the bench and shade on the canopy. The mesh was expected to have arrived by ship on May 20th.

For all his hard work on the sculpture, the biggest challenge Gibian faced involved transporting it in three pieces from his upstate studio down to Brooklyn.

Obtaining permits to move the 18-foot wide load took months of haggling with various parties. But in the end, the pieces got down to Gibian’s studio, where he welded them together.

Gibian was recommended for the job based on his Cable Crossing installation in the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station. He is also currently working on a piece for the Tribeca segment of Hudson River Park.

The sculpture will be publicly accessible in just a few weeks when the pier is turned over from the developer to the city and then opened to the public.

Toll Brothers, the developer, was required to construct a pier as part of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront rezoning of 2005.

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