Cortex Garage Artwork

Submitted by ViaVilla on Mon, 01/28/2019 - 3:36pm


Cortex is interested in commissioning an artist to create an iconic artwork for an important and visible new parking facility in the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis, Missouri. This new, site- specific surface mural or graphic treatment will embrace creative design solutions and reflect Cortex’s spirit of energy, innovation and community collaboration.

Cortex is working with Via Partnership to help manage the selection process which is open to artists and designers with the capacity to successfully complete design and installation/fabrication of the project within the timeline. The submission process is described below. The budget for the project is up to $250,000. Submissions are due February 28, 2019.       


The Cortex Innovation Community is a vibrant 200-acre innovation hub and technology district in the heart of St. Louis City. It sits between St. Louis’ Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods and is surrounded by nationally ranked universities and medical centers, cultural assets, historic neighborhoods, and public spaces, including the Grand Center Arts District, Forest Park, and the Grove. The complete Cortex development plan includes support for $2.3 billion of development: 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use buildings (research, office, clinical, residential, hotel, and retail), as well as a MetroLink light-rail station, a publicly-accessible park, and 15,000 permanent technology-related jobs for the St. Louis region. Currently, over 390 companies call the Cortex Innovation Community home. The Community is an open place for big thinkers and risk takers, home to tech startups, manufacturers, corporate research and development teams, nonprofit organizations, and local restaurants, as well as entrepreneurs, artists, designers, side-hustlers, researchers, chefs, and students -- anyone who wants to build a product, grow a business, throw a party, or make connections.


Cortex is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that oversees development of the Cortex Innovation Community, founded by Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri - St. Louis, BJC Healthcare, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Cortex staff and leadership are committed to creating a community in which everyone has access to office space, capital investment, business education, mentoring, and community events. We are building a dynamic, 24/7 neighborhood of restaurants, nightlife, shops green spaces, and apartments. Cortex is committed to fostering an innovation community in which the benefits of new company formation, capital investment, job creation and wealth generation extend to all. We work closely with our District innovation centers, founding partners, and other entrepreneur support organizations across the region to create and strengthen that community. We recognize that we are part of a larger movement for inclusive economic transformation of the St. Louis region.


The Cortex Parking Garage is currently under construction. It is located in the center of the Cortex Innovation Community to the east of the 4220 Duncan building. The south façade of the garage will face the future Chouteau Greenway urban trail and a recently opened MetroLink light rail station.

Phase 1 of the garage will have five levels made up of three bays that together are 179 feet long. The construction of Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed in May 2019. A future expansion of the garage to the east would add another two to three bays and five to six levels. While the artwork installation for Phase 2 of the garage will not occur within the current timeline, finalists will create a design for both portions of the structure, as explained below.

The new artwork on the south façade of the parking garage will be viewed by those entering and exiting the garage and will be highly visible to both MetroLink riders and passersby on the Chouteau Greenway. The artwork will also be visible to pedestrians and drivers from many other vantage points throughout the area and from nearby structures.

The artwork should make use of the design of the structure in creating a site-specific piece. Proposals are not requested at this time, but finalists selected to develop a proposal will need to work within the technical constraints of the garage design, phased construction schedule and consideration of additional areas of the garage in their design. Detailed information will be shared with finalists to include the following considerations:

  • Completed artwork should be permanent or semi-permanent with a minimum longevity of ten years.
  • Minimal additional weight can be added to the structure of the garage and the artwork must not hinder air flow through garage openings. A painted mural, graphic treatment, or lightweight attachments to the garage face would be possible. Electricity can be made available. Finalists will be free to explore creative solutions in their concept proposals within the technical constraints.
  • Finalists’ concept proposals will address both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the garage construction. Because the Phase 1 artwork will be completed before the construction of Phase 2, the first phase of artwork must be both independent and complementary with the design of Phase 2.
  • Finalists have the option to include the south stair concrete element in the scope of their design. The selected artist will also be consulted in selecting a complimentary color treatment for the west façade and northwest stair concrete element and elevator shaft.


The project should achieve the following goals:

  • Build on the image of Cortex as a premier national and international innovation hub.
  • Reflect the spirit of the cutting edge, vibrant and energetic Cortex community.
  • Serve as a gateway and point of arrival into Cortex.
  • Create an iconic point of interest to bring attention to Cortex and help spread Cortex’s message.
  • Use a functional parking infrastructure in a creative, innovative way.
  • Highlight the interplay of movement seen from the MetroLink and the Chouteau Greenway to emphasize energy and activity.
  • As one of the first major public art commissions in Cortex, set a high bar that energizes the community to use public art in future developments and public spaces.  


  • Artist submissions will be reviewed by an Artist Selection Panel (ASP), made up of regional curators, arts leadership and design professionals from the St. Louis community, as well as Cortex stakeholders.
  • The ASP will select up to three (3) finalists to develop and present concept proposals.
  • Finalists will receive a stipend of $5000 to participate in the concept proposal process, which will include touring Cortex and meeting community members prior to developing a proposal, and to present their proposal. Proposals will include renderings and a short narrative description addressing both Phase 1 and Phase 2, as well as a preliminary budget and timeline for completing Phase 1.
  • Finalists will return to St. Louis to present their concept proposals directly to the ASP in person and to present their design at a Venture Café Gathering, which is open to the public. Feedback from attendees of this presentation will be shared with the ASP.  The ASP will recommend a final artist/design for the project.
  • Artists living more than 100 miles from Cortex will be paid an additional amount up to $2000 for travel and lodging expenses in St. Louis for visits during the selection process, including the finalists’ introduction to Cortex and the presentations of the concept proposal.


The following criteria will be used by the Artist Selection Panel to select up to three (3) finalists.

  • Artistic excellence as demonstrated by past work and submitted materials.
  • A clear understanding of the project.
  • A body of work that demonstrates an ability to create an artwork that responds to the goals of the project.
  • Availability to meet the project timeline.
  • Experience executing projects of similar scale and budget.  (If you do not feel like you meet this criteria, please include the reasons why you are right for this project in your letter of interest.)


The selected artist’s responsibilities will be to:

  • Work with the project art consultant, garage architects, contractors and production company (if applicable) to finalize the design for both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
  • Work with the project art consultant to coordinate fabrication (if applicable), installation and complete execution of artwork. If the selected artist fabricates and installs the artwork themselves, the selected artist will be responsible for bringing all required materials needed for installation, including approved scaffolding and equipment to be able to safely reach the facade, assistants to complete the process in the agreed-upon timeframe, painting supplies and liability insurance coverage.
  • Recommend a color treatment for the west façade, and northwest stair concrete element and elevator shaft, and, if not included in scope of design, the south stair concrete element to coordinate with the artist’s design.
  • Provide maintenance and conservation instructions for the completed artwork.
  • Work cooperatively and maintain effective communication with all parties involved in the project.
  • Collaborate with Cortex Innovation Community on marketing and promotion of artwork. 


The budget for the artwork is not to exceed $250,000. This budget includes all costs of designing, fabricating and installing the artwork, including but not limited to all design fees, fabrication, materials and equipment costs, professional fees, travel and lodging during fabrication and/or installation, insurance, overhead, design, fabrication, site-work, shipping, and installation costs.


February 18, 2019       Last day to submit questions

February 28, 2019       Call for Artists Submissions due

Mid-March, 2019          Up to three (3) finalist artists selected and notified

Late March, 2019         Finalists invited for tour and introduction to the Cortex community

May 30, 2019               Finalists present final concept proposals to ASP

May 30, 2019               Finalists present final concept proposals at Venture Café Gathering series

June 2019                    Artist selection finalized

July 2019                     Selected artist submits final design for approval

July-November 2019   Fabrication (if applicable) and installation

To Submit

To apply, go online to the CaFÉ homepage at and create a free artist account. CaFÉ is free to use and there is no entry fee for this call.  Under “Find Calls” search for “Cortex Garage Artwork.” Follow the instructions for submission, upload the required images and files, and submit. For technical questions about CaFÉ, please click on “Help” on the CaFÉ website.  

You will be required to submit the following:

  • A brief letter describing your interest in the project, an explanation of why you are right for this project and confirmation of your ability to meet the project timeline.
  • A CV/resume
  • Contact information for 3-5 references.
  • Up to 10 jpeg images of previously completed projects that show your experience with art projects of this scale.



Interested artists may submit questions about this call by 4:00 p.m. CST on February 18, 2019 to Angie Villa at villa at Responses to questions will be posted at 4:00 p.m. CST on February 20, 2019.

Basic Info
Deadline Type: 
Deadline or Post Expiration: 
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Contact Information
Contact Name: 
Angie Villa
Contact Email: 
Contact Address: 
United States