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Birds take ‘Flight’ over the Woodward Esplanade

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

If you’ve walked along the new Woodward Esplanade, created and opened quickly earlier this spring, you may have noticed a flock of stationary birds overhead. The installation is called Flight, designed by the Hygienic Dress League, and was inspired by pigeons all over the city.

Quicken Loans worked with Groundswell Design Group to design and activate the Esplanade. Groundswell designed the succession of arch structures with programmable LED lighting as a framework for large scale art installations that will rotate throughout the year. Groundswell collaborated with visual artists the Hygienic Dress League to create Flight, the first large-scale installation.

Steve Coy chatted with Curbed about the Hygienic Dress League, comprised of him and his wife Dorota. The pigeon is their logo, he says. “We studied the pigeon in various positions of flight and decided to create an installation that captured that suspended motion. We wanted to create unique site lines with the chrome birds and interesting shadows on the ground. We wanted to completely take over the public space. You will find perched pigeons on the street lights and other spaces around the arches.”

Approximately 250 flying and perched pigeons take up the space. Coy says they wanted to reach an unsuspecting audience with their work, “We love to put artwork in the streets and this was a perfect opportunity.”

Groundswell Design Group’s Michael Cheney says that they worked with Rock Ventures and the DDP to, “design a park space along the medians between Campus Martius Park and the Congress QLine Stop as a public space that not only creates a better pedestrian experience and social gathering space along Woodward Avenue, but also becomes a space for artists, locally and internationally to install their art in the heart of the Central Business District.”

We can expect to see some installations for only a couple days, while others may last an entire season.

The birds are made from recycled cast aluminum, finished in painted chrome, with a leg tag donning the Hygienic Dress League label. Look up next time you’re downtown.