116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Occasionally over the weekend, my mind wandered to the cladding.
Cladding is a new word for me, so I apologize if I overuse it. And the cladding I'm referring to is a proposed series of decorative stainless steel plates that might someday adorn the Interstate 380 side of the U.S. Cellular Center.
The plates, designed by OPN architects, would be crimped and bisected by an angular line intended to represent the Cedar River's run through the city. In the midst of all that cladding, there would be a 30-foot-by-50-foot video screen heralding upcoming events at the center and convention complex.
The whole idea is to make interstate travelers ooh and ahh while they pass through and maintain a safe, legal speed through the heart of the city. They might say, “Get a load of that visually intoxicating cladding!” Hands at 10 and 2 the whole time, of course.
This is a big deal, so the Cedar Rapids Visual Arts Commission was called upon to look upon the cladding and render an artistic verdict. Rick Smith reported that some members thought the angular lines should be more naturally rounded, like the real river. Without such rounding, one said the cladding crimp would look like an electrocardiogram readout. But hey, on the bright side, it's not a flatline.
I did not dislike the design. It's an improvement over the current Berlin Wall aesthetic. Mr. Pomeranz, dress up that wall.
I also like it better than the massive metal mesh faces that were first proposed for the center's interstate facade. Some dislike “The City of the Five Seasons,” but it's clearly better than “The City of Giant Ominous Heads.”
So the crimped cladding could work. But I also saw merit in the responses of several online readers who pointed out the new design's similarity to a crushed beer can. Which got me thinking, maybe we could get Coors Light to buy naming rights and put some of those mountains on the steel that would turn blue when the weather gets ice cold. Now, that would be some intoxicating cladding.
Center naming rights might be an important factor. If Iowa Pork Producers, for example, were interested, the steel could be shaped to look like the bones of a delicious, elegant crown roast, or maybe a mess of baby back ribs. The arena could then be nicknamed The Rack.
Goodyear might be interested in tire-tread cladding on The Hubcap. Quaker, that iconic joint across the freeway, might like a stainless steel oatmeal bowl to grace the newly refurbished Regularity Arena, where every event is on time.
Clearly, the cladding possibilities are endless. We're only bound by our imaginations. Surely, you have ideas.
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