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Gate Etches Iconic Scenes into Nashville Witness Walls

2018 - Nashville, TX


Photo by Cheryl Lewis

Gate Precast has brought images from Nashville’s Civil Rights Movement to life through the use of some innovative graphic concrete technology.

NASHVILLE, TN, February 20, 2018 – For a year now, Nashville’s Civil Rights struggle has been eloquently portrayed in the deeply moving “Witness Walls,” a set of fragmented concrete sculptural walls featuring iconic imagery from the Nashville Public Library.

Using precast concrete panels, artist Walter Hood designed spatial experiences that place visitors in the center of historical moments occurring in the city during the Civil Rights Movement. As developer of the panels, Gate Precast played a critical role, utilizing innovative graphic concrete technology to turn the artist’s vision into reality through both curved and flat rectangular panels.

Working from its Ashland City, TN, plant, Gate’s solution was two-pronged, incorporating the use of both photo-realistic form liners and stencils to re-create the images. For the curved panels, the company relied upon a plastic form liner supplied by Innovative Brick Systems LLC in Broomfield, Colo. “The manufacturer has a machine that mills down the ribs in the form liner to create the outline of the image,” says Marshall Bassett, director of marketing and sales at Gate. “The liner was placed into the form and the concrete poured on top of it.” The shadows cast by the form liner ribs actually bring the image to life.

For the stenciled flat panels, replicating the images was both time consuming and challenging, since the stencils had to be physically cut and placed. Once in the forms, the stencils were then painted with a chemical to expose the aggregate in the stencil voids.

Bill Henderson, vice president and operations manager at the Ashland City plant, says finding the right mix design was critical. Gate ultimately chose a mix containing dark aggregates, including arrowood, with an “as cast” light gray background to provide the necessary contrast.

Going forward, Gate hopes to use the technology again for similar monuments. The Witness Walls monument is now a year-round reminder of Nashville’s Civil Rights struggles, but particularly as the city celebrates Black History Month this February.