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MTA Arts & Design


Park Place

Isha Shabaka

Units of the Free, 1999

Wrought iron railings throughout station

Railings are a functional requirement in the transit environment, but under Isha Shabaka's guiding hand, they are also powerfully expressive. Shabaka designed the railings to highlight the role of the station as an important neighborhood place. The thin and elegant diagonals of the rail create a see-through effect that helps open up the subway to the community. A large-scale image of an African mask is boldly designed in open metalwork. Its nose is a starkly geometric triangle, that symbolizes power and movement in some traditional cultures. Other shapes in the mask are the changeable curving lines, that allow the form to appear to be variously awake or asleep, vigilant or distracted, "commuters," Shakaba says. "Sometimes they may be aware and thinking when waiting for the train, or just relaxing for a moment. I'm showing both states."

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