In 2013, Liberty Mutual was nearing completion on their new $300 million worldwide headquarters in Boston. True to their mission of preserving and protecting what people earn, build, own, and cherish, Liberty Mutual sought to display their commitment to the larger Back Bay community by making enhancements to the public realm a key priority of the project – resulting in “Uplift,” a permanent public art installation at the prominent corner of Berkeley Street and Columbus Avenue. Artist Mia Pearlman was selected to complete the indoor-outdoor sculpture and hired us to act as her representative and project manager throughout the creative process from start-up through installation.
We worked with Mia directly to get the project moving – assisting with development of a “blue sky” budget, negotiating a favorable commission agreement with the owner, and handling artist subcontract agreements with the fabricator and art installers. Throughout the design phase, we acted as the main liaison between her team and Liberty Mutual’s design and construction team. This included confirming proper support points for the sculpture both inside and outside the building, developing and managing budget and schedule, preparing site requirements, documenting decisions and tracking progress, and facilitating lighting and approval discussions. As the artwork moved into fabrication and installation, our role focused on the site – obtaining permits, monitoring the staging area and site access, and assisting with installation management.
The final piece is made of eight interior hanging water jet cut aluminum elements and ten exterior water jet cut stainless steel elements mounted to a concrete slab – with elements ranging from 10 to 20 feet in length. Gazing into the two-story atrium, onlookers have interpreted UPLIFT to represent everything from water to air, dragons to angels. Regardless of the interpretation, the final piece does the one thing the owner and artist set out to achieve – form a metaphorical and visual connection between Liberty Mutual and the surrounding neighborhood while capturing the imagination of employees and locals alike.