City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program
Phoenix, AZ United States
Artwork Budget: 2000000
Rick Jones SmithGroupJJR
Chris Brown Floor Associates
At a Hohokam archaeological site and National Historic Landmark, Passage improves visibility of and pedestrian access to the museum from the Airport and a light rail station. The sculptural portal is inspired by red-on-buff Hohokam pottery and a solid steel gate is plasma cut with a Hohokam-inspired design. A winding path leads through a 140' circular gathering space ringed by 85 native boulders, 94 saguaro cacti, and ironwood trees, functioning as a community space for tribal events, and on to the museum. Mesquite trees provide shade and pay homage to their cultural importance to indigenous life in the desert.
With the recent construction of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Sky Train and the adjacent 44th Street light rail station, an opportunity was created across the street at Pueblo Grande Museum to create an entirely new pedestrian entrance experience that could be accessed from the airport or light rail station. The Artist was lead on the project, tasked with envisioning a creative way for pedestrians to access the Museum 1000 feet away from the 44th street corner, while providing interest and comfort in the desert heat. The artist also was tasked with increasing visibility of the Museum. The final artwork, entitled Passage, was the overall design, integrated within a desert site and providing access to the existing architecture that comprises the Museum facilities. The artist collaborated with a team which included landscape architects, structural engineers, city officials, public art officials, tribal leaders, archaeologists, fabricators, and the state historic preservation office. Any element below grade required archaeology to be performed. To minimize the impact on archaeology, the gathering area was set upon a 3’ mound, which was gracefully contoured to bring back a sense of the original rolling arroyos of the native landscape.
The Artist was selected through a competitive public art process through the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program. The Artist participated on a panel to select a local landscape architect and made trips to Phoenix to participate in initial design community workshops in order to fully understand the scope of the project and its goals. The Artist created a conceptual design, with AutoCAD drawings and 2d models to illustrate the concept, which included an iconic portal, a 1000’ walkway lined with trees, a steel gate, a threshold stone imprinted with the original Hohokam Canal System, a 140’ gathering space surrounded by boulders, saguaro cacti and ironwood trees. He collaborated with the landscape architect in the selection of appropriate plant materials for a desert environment and local construction practices. His design was reviewed by tribal leaders and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Artist personally selected all 85 boulders and placed them on the site with a small crew and provided construction observation.
A special effort was made to honor the indigenous culture throughout the design of this project. Much of the original site was flat, barren and lacking in the characteristics of the native landscape, which we attempted to emulate through a sense of rolling arroyos. The Hohokam constructed one of the largest, most sophisticated irrigation networks ever created, with hundreds of miles of waterways winding out from the Salt and Gila Rivers. These canals are imprinted in the Threshold Stone at the base of the Portal, which all pedestrian visitors will cross over as they enter.
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