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Art Inspired at City Market

March 15, 2018

City Market, Onion River Co-op, Burlington’s community-owned food cooperative, has been dedicated to supporting the local economy and strengthening local food systems for over 45 years.

So when it came time for the Co-op to build a second store, it was only natural that the design of the new building reflected City Market’s commitment to local foods.

Murals would be part of the design, as they are at the Co-op’s downtown location. But the new store would add something different: metal panels featuring abstract art inspired by Vermont agriculture.

After reviewing multiple options, FFF architects and Co-op staff chose images of everyday scenes from three local farms. The photographs were then digitally manipulated to reduce them to the bare essentials and colored in rich brown hues to match the rest of the building’s varied surfaces.

Next, the design team partnered with envelope LLC, a local façade consulting and supply firm, and their Minnesota-based manufacturing partner, Pure + Freeform, to produce full-sized mock-ups for review. Once approved, the final images were passed on to a team of skilled artisans in the Hashimoto Prefecture outside of Tokyo, Japan, for final production.

The Hashimoto team hand mixed paints and pearlescent inks to match the Co-op’s abstract images, then applied them to diamond-engraved cylinders for printing on extremely durable metal panels. All waste inks were integrated back into the printing process to help protect the health and safety of workers and to minimize the ecological impact of production.

Once the plates were printed, they were shipped to a state-of-the-art fabrication facility in Rogers, Minnesota, where the plates were sheared to size and pre-drilled for easy and accurate installation. From there, the local contractor, DEW Construction, installed the panels on the Burlington, Vermont store, adding texture and color to the building’s varied surfaces.

The whole process was not only a celebration of the rich agricultural community that City Market embodies, but also a celebration of cooperation and collaboration across countries and cultures. The result is a site-specific synthesis of art and technology that will spark the curiosity of Co-op shoppers for years to come.

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