FARMINGTON — A Mt. Blue High School graduate’s interest in engineering combined with artistic talent and a background in solar electricity has won him an international design award.

Robert Flottemesch, with help from a team of artists, won the 2010 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition. They were recently presented the award at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates.

Flottemesch graduated from Mt. Blue in the Class of 1996 while living in Wilton and Farmington. He is now an artist and senior engineer at Hudson Valley Clean Energy in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

The contest combined art with the production of clean energy on a large scale, he said. His design, titled Lunar Cubit, was an idea conceived five years ago. It took him those years to develop the concept and to realize how to bring a piece of art and energy production together.

The Lunar Cubit concept based on eight lunar phases shown as eight pyramids encircling one central pyramid, all made of glass and amorphous silicon, can produce enough electricity for 250 homes, Flottemesch said. The central pyramid is 50 meters tall.

The concept was designed to fit one of three contest spaces. The Lunar Cubit was designed for a space near the city of Masdar, a project under the umbrella of a large development company that seeks to construct a zero-carbon city, he said.

This first LAGI international contest, conceived by an artist and architect couple living in Dubai, received hundreds of entries from more than 40 countries. Flottemesch receives a $15,000 first prize and the potential opportunity to have the design constructed at a cost of $23 million, he said. It’s under negotiations and he’s hopeful.

Flottemesch brought the work of three others, Johanna Ballhaus, landscape designer, Adrian De Luca, who worked on the solar process, and Jen DeNike, an artist who provided the written commentary for the project, together to help him complete the design. The whole team was flown to Dubai for the award announcement. More information about the design is available at

His interest in engineering started as a child and he thought he’d pursue a major in business and engineering after high school.

After time spent traveling, Flottemesch went to Bard College in upper New York state where he studied contemporary arts with a focus on sculpture. His only regret, he said, was that he couldn’t follow both engineering and art.

Realizing that making a living as an artist could be difficult and seeing New York’s interest in solar energy, he started work as an engineer nearly six years ago for a then infant company, Hudson Valley Clean Energy, a pioneer of solar electric energy. 

The company’s headquarters is the first zero-net energy building in New York. All energy needs for heating/cooling, lighting and computers is generated by a solar electric system, he said. In the first year, the system generated a thousand kilowatt hours over what they used.

There were three employees when he started and now there are 40. He works with the governor and legislators on legislation and regulations for solar electric power, he said.

His interest in engineering has grown and he has enjoyed it, but he realized, “I had to parallel by artistic interests with my engineering interests.”

He’s been thinking about this design for a long time.

“I think that’s one of the reasons Lunar Cubit won the competition,” he said.

In his journey to combine renewable energy and art, he came to realize he needed to let go of the idea of generating energy and focus on something that is a piece of art.

“It became a marriage of the two but at the core level, it’s a piece of art,” he said. “I think there is a growing awareness all over the world of the artistic opportunities in issues we’re facing, sustainable methods to live on earth.”

He would like to continue this work full time working with architects, engineers and city planners to find ways to integrate renewal energy in more artistic ways, he said.

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