Glass Facade at Dixie University – Proposed Project

Glass Facade | Dixie State University | St. George, UT |


Gordon proposed the enormous and beautiful glass façade on the south elevation of the Dixie State University campus as a location for an art installation that would bridge life science with computer engineering.

Inspired by ‘binary code’ and how it interprets natural patterns, Gordon’s concept took the image of a tree canopy, explored different algorithms, and trained a computer to design pixels to fit between the horizontal louver patterns of the architecture. This way, his design utilized science and technology, interweaving natural phenomena to create a beautiful pattern of artwork for the glass façade while also complementing the architecture.

The pattern was expressed in a dichroic film that was applied to the interior surface of the glass.


The Design

Gordon chose dichroic film for this design not only because of its vibrancy and beauty, but also because he believed it was a great example of multidisciplinary innovation resulting in something beautiful and useful.

Dichroic glass became available as a result of material research carried out by NASA and its contractors, who developed it for use in filtering light for astronauts’ goggles. From an artist’s perspective, the most amazing qualities of this material were the intensity of the color, its vibrancy, reflectivity, and its ability to project color and pattern a great distance onto adjacent surfaces.

It was also very noteworthy how a pane of dichroic glass would transmit the opposite color it reflected. It constantly changed color depending on one’s angle of viewing and time of day. The colors shifted between magenta, teal, blue, yellow, and green. This material was transparent, so the view through either side of the window was not obstructed.

This design also included 50% “negative space” that did not have dichroic treatment, so it remained clear glass, which also helped frame the view from the interior. Since the glass faced south, there was a tremendous amount of direct daylight, and therefore a significant amount of colored light projected into the interior, giving the inside environment a unique array of colorful patterns. These patterns depended entirely on the movement of the sun, meaning the projected color and light moved as the sun moved, creating a passively kinetic dynamic.

Gordon believed that this design would be a great way to bring art to the entire plaza, as the colors would be reflected as well as refracted, creating dazzling patterns outside the building as well as inside. From the exterior of the building, the digitized patterns added a layer of visual interest in a lively, colorful way.

This design, therefore, resulted in an art installation not only for the enjoyment, interest, and inspiration of the students and faculty in the building, but also as a part of the visual landscape from the campus plaza.