Jason Grossi, Max Pecoraro, Bill RawlingsMax Pecoraro (centre) is flanked by faculty advisors Jason Grossi and Bill Rawlings in front of the illuminated bike dock installed in downtown Windsor.

Installation illuminates collaborative creativity

When we think of architects at work, blue prints and computer-aided design comes to mind. Undertaking the research, design, and then personally doing the actual fabrication of an installation, that’s a bit more unusual.

Max Pecoraro, a recent graduate of the Visual Arts and the Built Environment (VABE) program, has found designing and then fabricating that design is the aspect of architecture that he is truly passionate about. He enjoys combining research, design, and sculpture or building.

Pecoraro comes from a creative family. His father is an artist and his mother, Julie Sando, is a visual arts instructor at UWindsor’s School of Creative Arts, working in a variety of media, including photography, collage, relief, and video.

As a high school student at Walkerville Collegiate, Pecoraro enjoyed painting and drawing. But as a first-year visual arts student, he enjoyed the three dimensional aspects of sculpture studio classes so much, he switched his major to pursue a degree in Visual Arts and the Built Environment.

Students in the VABE program take both studio-based and lecture-based courses. They split their time between UWindsor’s School of Creative Arts (SoCA) and University of Detroit Mercy’s (UDM) School of Architecture. UDM has the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, whose staff teach a number of classes that give students the chance to collaborate with real clients on their own design work.

While a VABE student, Pecoraro worked as a research assistant for Veronika Mogyorody and as a teaching assistant for the Contemporary Visual Culture course. He also had the opportunity to work with VABE co-ordinator Jason Grossi on some of the professor’s projects, including the schematic design drawings of the proposed renovation of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association.

“We are now doing the final construction drawings for final approval,” says Pecoraro.

For his fourth-year thesis, he pitched an idea to develop a multimedia urban art installation for the association. The installation combines a programmable 10,000 LED display and a secure bike rack that is now located in downtown Windsor, adjacent to the TownePlace Suites Marriott and St. Clair College’s Mediaplex.

Pecoraro developed and fabricated the work in collaboration with his advisor, Grossi, and co-advisor Bill Rawlings from St. Clair College.

“I learned so much,” Pecoraro says. “I had the freedom to see the project through from beginning to end.”

The opening of the installation continued the collaboration between the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, as the display showed off digital works by students in the college’s graphic design program and a new time-based work by conceptual artist Iain Baxter&.

—Susan McKee