Shimmering Wall

Unique Art for a Unique Building. The Cree Shimmer Wall is a 9,284-square-foot piece of art adorning the side of the Raleigh Convention Center. This spectacular piece is made up of 79,464 light and dark aluminum squares that change shape and disappear as the squares flap in the wind. The piece looks high-tech, but it’s not.”It’s a completely low-tech thing,” said Thomas Sayre, principal with the Raleigh architecture firm Clearscapes, which created the piece. “It’s just the wind.” The wall depicts an image of an oak tree and has become a symbol for Raleigh, the City of Oaks.

 It is backlit at night by 56 light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, fixtures that can be programmed to flash and display more than a million different colors.

 “The possibilities really are endless,” said Sayre.

The 4-inch squares of aluminum hang on louvers in 4-foot-square grids, enabling them to ripple in the breeze above the 80,000 cars that pass by daily on McDowell Street. If the shimmer wall were not in place, passersby would be forced to look at a wall covering up the convention center’s air-conditioning system.

Clearscapes got the idea for the wall from Ned Kahn, an artist from northern California who has installed similar pieces around the country, including two in downtown Charlotte. He collaborated on the design.

Raleigh’s shimmer wall is unique because it includes an image of an oak tree — Raleigh’s nickname is the City of Oaks — and because it will be backlit at night by 56 light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, fixtures that can be programmed to flash and display more than a million different colors.