Vantage South End sculpture inspires curiosity at Charlotte development

AURUM, an outdoor sculpture by artist Ivan Toth Depeña, is the centerpiece of Vantage South End, a just-completed mixed-use office, restaurant and retail destination and public park in Charlotte developed by the Spectrum Companies. Evoking themes of nature and shelter, the shade-giving sculpture includes six, 16-foot-wide aluminum composite canopies on 18-foot-high supports that complement the cantilevered and angular lines of Vantage South End’s architecture.  

AURUM takes its design cues from the site and from the area’s history. Inspired by the geometric facets of the gold nuggets discovered in the 1800s in the South End’s gold district, Depeña has created an immersive experience with light and shadows cast from the sculpture’s faceted polygonal intersections. Depeña’s ethereal responses to nature, geometry and light were the driving forces for the entire installation. This is emphasized by his choice of the material that has a metallic quality when viewed from one direction and an otherworldly, iridescent blue aura from another perspective. 

The sculpture was translated directly from various hand sketches into 3d modeling software for massing and form definition. The 1000+ “skin” elements were developed and cut in house and the structural framework was developed by a partnering fabricator. Each segment of the polygonal skin structure is unique, as well as, the connection plates and interior structural elements. 

Depeña Studio used Parametric design software, not only to help develop the initial form, but also to maintain a direct dialogue with the collaborating fabricator and structural engineer in order to map locations/angles, track the number of parts and square footage in real time within the structure. This helped monitor a complex assembly process while processing the budget implications in real time during the many iterations of the form and refinement process. 

The skin and the structure were assembled on site in a puzzle-like manner. The larger assemblies were then craned in, set into place, and permanently anchored to the footings to complete the installation process.

In addition, Depeña and landscape architects LandDesign developed a plan for the Vantage South End’s sunken courtyard. The space’s geometry and 3d massing overlaps and intertwines with itself via sculpted precast benches. This interplay with form and function where a bench becomes a curb element and the sculpture becomes a shade canopy is a complex play on Depeña’s focus on disciplinary fusion.

Ivan Toth Depeña, AURUM, 2022. Photo by Ivan Depeña, Ben Premeaux.
Ivan Toth Depeña, AURUM, 2022. Photo by Ivan Depeña, Ben Premeaux.

About the Artist

Ivan Toth Depeña is an artist based in Charlotte, NC, after having lived and worked in Miami, FL and New York, NY. With a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Depeña’s artistic production is informed by his experience in art, architecture, technology and design, and encompasses a range of media. 

Depeña works in the public realm and maintains a rigorous studio practice. He has exhibited extensively, nationally and internationally, in both solo and group exhibitions, including the McColl Center, NC; Praxis NY, NYC; New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; Miami Art Museum, Frost Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.

Depeña has completed large public commissions in Denver, Albuquerque, Nashville, and Miami. His work is held in numerous public and private collections.

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