For the first time in history, 135 professional cyclists raced through Boulder, Colorado during the 2012 U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge: a 7-day race covering 12 cities and over 683 miles. To commemorate the event, Boulder held a contest to design a local, permanent monument to the race and its cyclists. The winner of the contest was Michelle Lee ,an environmental designer passionate about creating functional art in the built environment. And for this particular project ,Dupont™ Corian® material had captured Lee's interest in a strong way.
When we talk about materials in the physical built environment (particularly in Boulder), the discussion is still around brick,stone,concrete,steel. To me, this is the new outdoor material of my generation. We are now seeing buildings skinned with Corian® in Denmark, Portugual, UK and modular faÃ§ade systems and living wall systems being developed with this material.
Lee says her strengths lie in ideation and presentation, so she designed and modelled her bike rack , named The Ribbon, using 3D software and hand-built study models, then presented it to City of Boulder Downtown & University Hill Management+Parking Services, packaged with a story about her inspiration and her interest in using Corian® specifically in outdoor functional art. â€œLike many Boulder residents and cycling enthusiasts, I'm constantly thinking about better ways to access transport, and securely store our bikes, how to get the most of out my rides, better accessories, and new destinations to bike toâ€ said Lee. â€œBut creating bike style is what interests me the most. I'm attracted to unique objects, experiences and ideas and then executing them, in the hope that doing is better than talking about something.â€ The Ribbon is reflective of the curves of the road. Each piece of the fourÂâ€part functional art rack has graphics of four of the hills that the Pro Cycling Challenge cyclists climbed: Lee Hill, Lefthand Canyon, Boulder Canyon, and the steepest, Flagstaff Mountain.
The rack is made of 12mm thick rolled steel and clad on both sides with 12mm thick thermoformed Corian® in Designer White. â€œIn weather extremes, either cold or hot, you want the binding material (glue) to be flexible so the different materials can move independentlyâ€ explained Lee. Since Lee's work at 505 often feeds her creative impulses in her independent work (and vice versa), she started investigating how she could use it when she heard about the contest. â€œMy goal was to work on a project by myself and improve my own process. I knew it would be revealing, for better and worse.â€ said Lee. Lee found the on-site field research stage fascinating. She underwent an intense period of discovering, visiting and interviewing local fabricators in Colorado. But one thing she was not willing to give up easily was her choice of material.