Electrical Box
November 3, 2017
November 3, 2017
Location: 37°41'02.4"N 97°20'37.2"W

Task: Stabilize Deteriorating Guardrail

A recent USGS (United States Geological Survey) study has concluded that the wastewater disposal incurred by increasing oil and gas production in the central United States has led to an extraordinary jump in the frequency of earthquakes in these states. To demonstrate this "dramatic increase in seismicity", the USGS published some surprising statistics: from 1973 to 2008, there were an average of 24 earthquakes of magnitude three or larger per year. By 2014, this figure had ballooned to 688. In Wichita alone, there had been, on average, one earthquake per year until 2014, when more than 125 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or larger were registered. This unanticipated frequency has accelerated damage to buildings and infrastructure that had not been designed for this type of compounded stress, and features that were badly or improperly constructed suffered disproportionately. The welds on the bottom corner of this guardrail had not been of high quality when completed in 1989, but this oversight was not a concern until perpetual shaking finally degraded the connection to a point where the steel became vulnerable to water infiltration and hence, rust. Over time, the joint disintegrated completely and left an open span that severely compromised the guardrail's public safety function. The guardrail will eventually be replaced, but the City of Wichita decided to wait until the regional earthquake frequency decreased to pre-2014 levels, to avoid the situation repeating itself. In the meantime, the interim solution is an adjustable device that can be re-calibrated month-to-month, depending on seismic activity, in order to maintain consistent structural integrity in that connection.


This is a piece from a collection of work entitled FISSURE, shown at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City, from November 3, 2017 - January 26, 2018.

Twenty years ago, a girl moved to a new city. She spent the first few weeks walking and investigating, then built a hidden residence inside a billboard sign from which she could watch the city move and react beneath her, unaware of her presence. As time passed, she tricked the city into revealing all its secrets; however, it soon became clear that she must insert her own into the voids left by her intrusion, in order to maintain equilibrium. As an architect, the girl is predisposed to notice conditions that are unstable or unresolved, so she decides to reciprocate the city's unintentional generosity by stabilizing these issues. The fix is only temporary: these devices are not designed as permanent solutions, rather to act as urban prosthetics that may become an intrinsic part of the whole or be absorbed back into the city when no longer needed.

There are eight “secrets” inserted in various places around both Kansas City and Wichita. They can be found at the following locations:

37°41'21.1"N 97°20'09.2"W
37°41'00.7"N 97°20'51.9"W
37°41'02.4"N 97°20'37.2"W
37°40'49.4"N 97°19'51.8"W
39°06'12.6"N 94°34'51.3"W
39°05'37.7"N 94°34'54.7"W
39°05'14.1"N 94°34'55.8"W
39°06'17.8"N 94°35'32.7"W