Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro)

TX: Keep Houston Beautiful Salutes New Light Rail

Art lovers won’t have to travel all the way to the museum district to check out modern masterpieces – they’ll be visible at new MetroRail stations beginning in December and they’re getting awards before the official unveiling.

Architectural design incorporating bent structural steel arches with glass roofs, are combined with supporting artwork, signage and lighting to make show-stopping rail platforms at 24 new stations. The Keep Houston Beautiful 29th Annual Mayor’s Proud Partners Awards luncheon will honor Metro for the achievement on October 28 at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel.

Metro Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia said, “The board is incredibly proud of this award. It celebrates our mission and our vision. Transit is utilitarian, but it is so much more. It gives us a chance to connect as individuals and as communities. It also provides a catalyst to communities that are always changing, but mindful of their history. We sought the best, and we got it with the art and artists in this program.”

The artwork at the stations is made possible through MetroRail’s Arts in Transit program, which transforms the new stations into art landscapes featuring unique, original pieces from 14 artists and artist teams, 11 from the Houston area, two from San Antonio, and one from Phoenix.

According to Americans for the Arts: “Public art does something that neither a public space without art nor even a museum with all its art can do: it can capture the eye and mind of someone passing through our public spaces. It can make us pay attention to our civic environment; it can encourage us to question what’s around us. Much of our newly built environment lacks the resonance of history or reflection of civic ownership, which makes residents proud of where they live.”

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) reports, "The visual quality of the nation’s mass transit systems has a profound impact on transit patrons and the community at large ... Good design and art can approve the appearance and safety of a facility, give vibrancy to its public spaces, and make patrons feel welcome. Good design and art will contribute to the goal that transit facilities help to create livable communities

Since its initiation in 2006, the arts in transit program has involved dozens of local and national art experts and hundreds of community residents in the process of determining the content of the artwork, the selection of the artists, and the shape of the artworks final design. Arts in transit transforms individual stations into engaging showcases, each offering a proud and meaningful reflection of the diverse neighborhoods they serve. Metro’s Arts in Transit Program was designed so that the artwork could be tailored to the character of each neighborhood, based on a cooperative approach with the community.

A goal of the Metro Arts in Transit program is providing beautiful public space that enhances local neighborhoods and provides Houston with an improved quality of life through an exemplary transportation system. This is a permanent project featuring artwork by many artists from the Houston area and will be enjoyed by local residents and visitors for decades to come.