Call To Artists – Tidemarker Art Installation



An artist will be selected to create a site-specific public art project for the environmental non-profit Elizabeth River Project at the site of their new Ryan Resilience Lab in Norfolk, Virginia to be installed September 2023 with a total budget of $50,000.


As communities everywhere wrestle with the growing impacts of climate change, The Louis & Pru Ryan Resilience Lab of the Elizabeth River Project will serve as a global model for urban coastal living that protects both the ecosystem and humans as sea levels rise. Now being built along Knitting Mill Creek on one of Norfolk, Virginia’s fastest growing commercial corridors, this $8 million living laboratory is funded through the future-minded philanthropy of its namesakes, Louis and Pru Ryan of Norfolk, and many generous donors to our Next Wave Campaign.

The Elizabeth River Project is a growing non-profit organization leading the effort to restore the health of our historic urban river, while affirming her value to our region’s maritime economy. Formed by four concerned residents over a kitchen table in 1991, our organization is a collection of community members, businesses, governments, students, educators and public servants working together to ‘Do Something Beautiful’ by restoring our home river.

To that end, we rely on the power of partnership – rather than lawsuits and finger-pointing – to accomplish our restoration goals. That philosophy has become an international model for collective action, and led the Stanford Social Review to cite the Elizabeth River Project as one of the country’s best examples of convincing disparate interests to work together on a community project.

We also recognize that historically across this country, people of color disproportionately have borne the impacts of pollution. The Elizabeth River is for everyone, and we are committed to addressing these inequities as a cornerstone of our Watershed Action Plan for the Elizabeth River.

Project Information

Designed by Norfolk architectural firm Work Program Architects, the innovative, 6,500 square foot, solar-equipped Ryan Resilience Lab is being intentionally built inside a flood zone to demonstrate environmentally sustainable construction. The building has an intentional life span of 30 to 50 years to match sea level predictions for Norfolk. The Elizabeth River Project plans to place the property in long-term 2 conservation using the nation’s first “rolling conservation easement,” pledging to remove the building once water levels reach a trigger point.

The Elizabeth River Project’s Ryan Resilience Lab is envisioned to be a multi-purpose learning lab that incorporates advanced sustainable/resilient design technologies and techniques throughout the building and site, demonstrating Norfolk’s new resilient quotient and environmental resilience to sea level rise. The building will be approximately 5,500 square feet of office space, meeting space, and educational space, constructed using conventional wood framing techniques, and elevated 10 feet (1 story) above ground-level on wood piers. The building exterior will be a mix of fiber cement and natural wood siding, with large aluminum windows. The program will be arranged on two occupiable floors above the ground level, and the building will be equipped with code-required egress stairs and a 3-stop electric traction elevator. Roof construction will be a structural and wind-rated metal roof system over insulated nailable decking. For low-slope portions of the roof, a vegetated roof system will be installed with irrigation. The building will feature large decks on the 2nd and 3rd levels, as well as a multi- leveled entrance plaza. The plaza is designed as an exploratory demonstration area, with information screens, a demonstration rain garden, and rain barrel cisterns.

The Ryan Resilience Lab is currently under construction with a target completion of late summer 2023. The Tidemarker art installation will be located in the Learning Park along the waterfront of the Ryan Lab. The art location is not predetermined though some suggested locations have been identified, and the artist will be welcome to participate in selecting the art site.

 **UPDATED** Artist hard- hat tours can be arranged for the 3-5 selected finalists to visit the construction site, get a sense of the area, and see in- person the locations identified in the site map as potential public artwork installation locations. Locations marked “pedestal” have been identified as possible sites, and the artist is not necessarily constrained to mounting the piece on a pedestal.

Art Goals

The Elizabeth River Project encourages proposals that educate and inspire thought, dialogue and caring among diverse communities about its mission: To restore the environmental quality of the Elizabeth River through business, government and community partnerships. Within that mission and for this Tidemarker piece, the Elizabeth River Project seeks to employ art and science to achieve a special focus on inspiring resilience to sea level rise, foremost for the protection of the ecosystem, but also to safeguard quality of life for humans.

The piece should demonstrate acknowledgement and celebration of the day of abandonment of the structure due to the measurable scientific trigger point of the conservation easement retreat. This acknowledgement is the educational emphasis that informs the sculpture. Other tidal moments (extreme highs and lows) and interactions could be considered as well to help create the piece. The ideal Tidemarker art piece should create feelings of connection with nature and an empowerment to care, rather than incite fear.

Selection Criteria and Award Considerations

Tidemarker proposal must demonstrate durability in relation to outdoor site conditions which include flooding, wind and salt corrosion. Piece must also be eco-aware in that it is wildlife friendly and constructed with sustainable materials. Consideration must be given to ease for flora and fauna to coexist (i.e. barnacles, crabs, oysters, wetland grasses, etc).

In addition to being relevant to the Elizabeth River area, the artwork must satisfy reasonable standards of permanence and safety, meet all relevant codes required for public places, and offer reasonable proof of soundness against theft, vandalism or excessive maintenance and repair.

The following criteria will be used in the proposal evaluation process:

  • Artistic merit (excellence, originality, creativity) as evidenced by submitted materials
  • Professional artistic experience to fulfill the requirements of this project either in
    studio, educational, community, employment and/or art projects and the ability to
    undertake the design, creation, and installation of the artwork
  • Appropriateness of materials, style, and concepts in relation to this prospectus


The project is open to all experienced professional artists. Artists who are new to the field of public art are encouraged to apply. Artists who have experience interacting with community are also encouraged to apply. The selected artist must provide proof of general liability insurance coverage.

Estimated Project Timeline

  • February 15, 2023 – Initial proposals must be received by 5pm EST. Proposals received after the deadline will not be accepted.
  • February 17, 2023 – Tidemarker Art Selection Panel will meet to review proposals and select 3-5 finalists invited to be given stipend of $500 to compensate for time required to submit final proposals (e.g. site-specific drawings, CAD).
  • March 22, 2023 – Final proposals from finalists must be received by 5pm EST. Proposals received after the deadline will not be accepted.
  • March 24, 2023 – Tidemarker Art Selection Panel will meet to review proposals and select Tidemarker artist
  • September 2023 – Installation at Ryan Resilience Lab

For More Information

Please contact Casey Shaw at the Elizabeth River Project, No phone calls please.

Submission Requirements

Submissions are closed at this time.

Youth Water Monitoring Results

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