Ocean Gateway is the terminal for cruise ships and buses visiting Portland, Maine, and the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau wanted an exuberant entry portal to the city and state. Tensioned fabric sculptor Cynthia Thompson, president of Transformit, a company based in Gorham, Maine, was given carte blanche with the design. “The impression I want to give is that [Maine is] a place of beauty, and here is a big ‘wow!’ when passengers come in,” says Thompson.
A profusion of grand scale flowers grows from the terminal ceiling, giving tourists an awe-inspiring dance of double- and triple-stacked dazzles (daisy-shaped fabric structures) and morning glories. These ready-made sculptures, made of varying fabric types and textures, have aluminum frames and can be configured to achieve a number of artistic visions. The Ocean Gateway featured almost no soft surfaces, so once Transformit installed the tensioned fabric sculptures, the quieting effect was immediately noticed by volunteers who previously found that echoes interfered with communication. “Many people comment on how fabulous [the flowers] are,” says Jennifer Tomlinson, manager of the Visitor Information Centers for the Bureau. “They are photographed several times a day.”