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Commissioned Sculpture Sought for Northern Kentucky University

Posted by Northern Kentucky University ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Commissioned Sculpture Sought for Northern Kentucky University




Northern Kentucky University (NKU) seeks an artist or artist team to design, construct and install a sculpture to be suspended from the ceiling at the 1.5 floor level of the Health Innovation Center (HIC) Commons area, located in the southwest corner of the building. The new Health Innovation Center is under construction and will be occupied in the summer of 2018.

$150,000; the artist shall consider this budget to be ALL inclusive. The artist’s budget will include research, design, materials, fabrication, transportation, shipping, installation, site and/or structural modifications, engineering, insurance, taxes and any other expenses, to result in a complete project and installation. Any expenses that exceed the contracted amount will be the artist’s responsibility.

All professional artist or artist teams may apply. If applying as a team, the team should be declared on the Application Form, specifying a team leader to receive notifications. Artists currently enrolled in a university or college degree program are not eligible to apply. The artist must have completed two permanent public artworks with budgets of at least $50,000. Additionally, the artist must meet at least two of the following criteria to be considered for this commission:
• The artist has completed other public art commissions of similar scale.
• The artist has received awards, grants or fellowships.
• The artist’s works are included in public, private, corporate or museum permanent collections.
• The artist has participated in exhibitions at major museums or galleries.

Project Description

The HIC will be a comprehensive health science education and applied research facility located in the core of NKU’s campus. It is an addition to the existing 1974-era Founders Hall academic building, which is being completely renovated as part of the HIC project. The University’s approach is collaborative and trans-disciplinary, involving numerous academic disciplines, including those in health, social science, information science and the physical and life sciences. Upon completion, the building will be light-filled, open and inviting. It will feature active learning classrooms, simulation spaces and labs. The building features a dramatic split-level public space which connects the Central Plaza with the West Quad. The new building has been planned as a pair of wings or lofts oriented along the east-west direction to optimize solar orientation. The lofts are positioned directly adjacent to Founders Hall, creating multiple collaborative common areas. They are connected via bridges to Founders Hall across a narrow four story atrium space, joining the new construction with the existing building. A large skylight at the roof level will allow natural daylight to spill down through the atrium space.

Artwork Location Description
The site is an area of about 300 square feet. This location is situated prominently above/along the building’s main pedestrian pathway from the West Quad into and through the HIC building. The clear ceiling height is approximately 19’-9” and the sculpture can hang no lower than 10’-0” from the finished floor. The maximum suggested height of the sculpture must include the dimension of any hanging devices attaching it to the ceiling. Artwork may hang from Unistrut Metal Framing members, which are to be supplied and installed by the artist, but must be approved by the University.

Artwork Goals
NKU has a history of investing in indoor and outdoor public art, and wanted to take this opportunity to enhance the indoor environment. In addition to the planned dedication of the HIC/Founders construction project in Fall 2018, NKU will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018 and considers this investment to be part of the anniversary celebration. This work of art will be a permanent installation. This piece should build on the concept for the HIC/Founders project as described. The artist may, in addition, consider the following concepts and themes when envisioning the sculpture:

  • NKU mission, vision, strategic goals and core values –
  • Innovation
  • Unique NKU academic environment promoting trans-disciplinary collaboration
  • Inspiring and engaging, contextual and specific to this site
  • This piece is intended to be a memorable piece of art located in a place intended for meeting, hanging out and/or studying.

The completed work for this site must be constructed of durable materials, with a minimal requirement for long-term maintenance. The artist may choose, if shortlisted, to submit an existing piece to the committee for consideration. The sculpture will be owned by and promoted as part of NKU’s permanent art collection.


  • RFP Due Date: January 27, 2017, NOON EDT
  • Shortlist Notifications and Invitations to Submit a Proposal are emailed: February 17, 2017
  • Site Visit: March 1, 2017
  • Deadline for Semi-Finalist Questions: April 12, 2017
  • Deadline for Response to Semi-Finalist Questions: April 15, 2017
  • Shortlist Responses are Due to NKU: May 1, 2017
  • Presentations by Shortlisted Artists at NKU: week of May 8-12, 2017
  • Selection Process Complete and Commission Award is Announced: June 1, 2017
  • Artwork Design Development: June-September, 2017
  • Artwork Shop Drawings: October-November 2017
  • Artwork Fabrication: December 2017-May 2018
  • Installation: June 2018
  • Opening/Unveiling: September-October 2018


Application Requirements
Northern Kentucky University requests that qualified artists for this opportunity submit images of previous projects demonstrating their ability to create meaningful, unique and exciting works of art that enliven public spaces, at least some of which are similar to what is envisioned for this project.

  • Resume: 5 page(s) maximum
  • Work examples: 1 – 25
  • Letter of Interest: 500-word maximum
  • Provide an overview of your interest in creation of a ceiling suspended artwork for NKU’s Health Innovation Center, including an overview of the artist’s public art experience and how it prepares the artist for this project.
  • References: 3

Artists applying as a team must split the allotted number of work examples between themselves.

Selection Process
Artists will be selected based on artistic merit, quality of materials, appropriateness for the site, feasibility to meet the goals of the project within existing budget constraints, demonstrated experience, and ability to meet the scheduled timeline. Members of the selection committee will view most favorably those submissions which indicate that the artist has carefully reviewed the goals of this project. Following the initial screening of applicants’ images, up to four artists may be selected to fully develop a concept (unless the work is an already completed work). A stipend of $5,000 will be offered for the completed concept to those shortlisted artists whose work is not selected.

Semi-finalist artists will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Originality, artistic excellence and innovation demonstrated through past work and supporting documentation.
  • The artist’s experience in public art is sufficient to meet the demands of the project.
  • The artist is open to a collaborative working process in regards to design, approvals and implementation.

Semi-finalists will tour the site and campus; meet with the Artist Selection Committee and others; and have an opportunity to ask questions to inform the artwork proposal. Detailed architectural and engineering information about the building will be provided at this stage in the process.

Semi-finalists will return to NKU in May 2017 to individually present their artwork proposal to the Artist Selection Committee. The submission/proposal will include the following: a written description of the artwork proposal, site specific rendering of the proposed Artwork including dimensions, draft budget, timeline, possible fabricators and anticipated maintenance requirements. Artists will present information regarding their background and experience in executing public art projects. The Selection Committee will make its decision within two weeks of the presentation.

Selection Criteria

  1. Aesthetic Excellence – The highest priority is the inherent aesthetic quality of the artwork and its compatibility and relationship with the site as well as the way the public is intended to respond and interact with it.
  2. Relevance – Artwork must be appropriate for and sensitive to the chosen location including surrounding architecture, topography, local history, and community attitudes and concerns.
  3. Durability and Permanence – Resistance to weathering, vandalism and theft as well as structural sustainability and the potential for excessive future maintenance, as this work is intended to be permanent.
  4. Public Safety – The artwork shall be examined for unsafe conditions, materials or factors.
  5. Technical Feasibility – The artist must provide convincing evidence of his or her ability to complete the artwork as proposed.
  6. Past Performance – The Artist Selection Committee will consider the artist’s performance under previous contracts including success in meeting established timelines and budgets.
  7. Cost Feasibility – The Committee will consider the cost feasibility and determine if the project is realistic within the specified project budget.


How to Apply

Send all materials via postal mail to:

Mark Jones
726 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights K 41099 United States

Additional Resources
Visit to download the full RFQ with images and complete application information.  You must register in order to view the documents.  Registration is free of charge.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Mark Jones, 859-572-1369 or