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Friday, May 31 • 8:45am - 9:00am
(Architecture) Protecting UT Landmarks: an Evaluation of Graffiti Control

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Graffiti has been a growing concern in public spaces. College campuses often serve as unfortunate recipients of this form of vandalism. With growing concern for the protection of its art collection, the University of Texas Landmarks public art program is developing a comprehensive plan to protect its artworks. The Landmarks program was launched in 2008 to cultivate a collection of public art for the University of Texas at Austin. Its priorities are to beautify the main campus while developing a sense of community and civic engagement. One of the first initiatives of the program brought twenty-eight modern sculptures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to the university. As its own collection grows, UT Landmarks wants to review methods for controlling graffiti. In collaboration with the UT Architectural Conservation Laboratory; this project will evaluate techniques for anti-graffiti treatments on a Sol Lewitt outdoor sculpture.

Through the Landmarks program, UT acquired, Sol Lewitt’s “Circle with Towers” from the Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York in 2011. “Circle with Towers” will be erected at the entrance of the new Dell Computer Science Hall and the Bill and Melinda Gates Science Complex designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. As part of a campus wide initiative to transform the East Mall into a major axis, the Science Complex and Lewitt sculpture will be located in the center of the campus. Designed by Peter Walker Partners Landscape Architects, the campus transformation will feature numerous art projects. Each public artwork will be viewed by thousands of people on a daily basis and will subject the collection to both applause and unforeseen hazards.

Lewitt’s sculpture forms a twenty-five foot diameter ring of geometric forms. The structure is composed of Westbrook Concrete Block Company’s Decro-Face Concrete Masonry Unit and is porous. All of the blocks have a water repellant admixture that is water-borne and clear. Both sacrificial and non-sacrificial anti-graffiti treatments will be tested in this evaluation. Sacrificial treatments are used for their minimal effects on the appearance of the substrate and are removed along with the graffiti once an episode occurs. Non-sacrificial treatments last for several graffiti episodes and are cleaned with chemical graffiti removers after an episode.

The process of treatment evaluation will include appearance and performance evaluation. After application of the anti-graffiti treatment an initial appearance evaluation will be completed to note immediate alterations in color and gloss. After the curing period is complete, a second appearance evaluation will be carried out. After successful appearance evaluation, the treated substrate will undergo performance evaluation. For the selected treatments, multiple types of graffiti will be applied to the surface. The graffiti will then be subsequently removed with the graffiti removal materials and methods recommended by the manufacturer. Based on the results of this evaluation, the “Circle with Towers” sculpture will be treated with an anti-graffiti coating. The results will serve as a model for future applications on porous substrates or comparable materials at the University of Texas at Austin.


Sarah Hunter

Historic Preservation-Student, University of Texas at Austin

Friday May 31, 2013 8:45am - 9:00am EDT
JW Marriott 103-104 19 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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