Client: CRRMA, TxDOT, City of El Paso
Location: El Paso, TX, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $7,500,000
Vicki Scuri SiteWorks
City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs
This project renovates existing infrastructure from gore to gore, over 2,000 linear feet, creating a gateway to the El Paso International Airport and Downtown. Inspired by images of flight and movement, the project includes an array of 50’-tall, functional, illuminated wind turbines with customized radial armatures, paired with sequences of low illuminated sculptures, and arched planters hosting native trees and plants. The project promotes sustainability, incorporating green energy and Xeriscaping. Other aesthetic improvements include: painted column wraps, pier caps, paving patterns, stone cladding, new paint, landscape lighting and programmable LED lighting for celebrating the seasons and community events.
The goals for this project include creating a civic gateway and a welcoming gesture for visitors and residents alike, promoting a sense of place that celebrates Airway as a primary intersection, the busiest intersection in El Paso that leads to the Airport and to Downtown. The project symbolizes mobility and growth. The wind turbines and related sculptures are derived from airfoils, wing shapes and native plants, specifically cacti. The illumination coupled with the upward movement of the forms implies a burst or flowering, rebirth. All aspects of the work are conceived as enhancements to the existing conditions. Everything is integrated, intended to transform the infrastructure into a special place that promotes community ownership, safety, beauty and local identity. The community has embraced the project, and has suggested renaming it, “Airway Lights.” The lighting design for the Airway Gateway is special, reflecting El Paso's transitional seasons. Each season displays a color selection. The shows run from dusk until dawn. Each show shares the same 52 colors with emphasis on its seasonal hues, celebrating the 52 weeks of the year. The color sequences represent a pattern structure similar to a quilt or a Mexican Blanket.
The collaborative process between the Artist, the Design Team and the Contractor was seamless. Everyone worked together to accomplish a very ambitious project in a very short period of time. The entire renovation project from beginning to end occurred within a 2.5-year period. Ongoing communication, cooperation and the trust and support of our Team and Client made this project possible. Everyone worked together to problem solve and to create the best possible project for the City. For example, UGE, the turbine manufacturer, collaborated with CAID Industries, to transform their functional turbines into our aesthetic vision. While there were many hurdles and obstacles to overcome, the goal to create a unique, “green” gateway was embraced and realized through the collective efforts of all parties. While the Artist was the aesthetic lead, the project would not have been possible without the close collaboration and cooperation of all consultants and contractors, embracing a common goal to conceive, document and build this project while maintaining high standards and aesthetic integrity. Our contractor, Jordan Foster, and his many sub-consultants performed flawlessly.
We are inspired by the El Paso International Airport, the name Airway, the wind, the mountains, native plants and the commercial/industrial site, characterized by oil tanks, gas stations, hotels and restaurants. This is a dynamic site with a background of mountains that can be viewed from many vantage points. Our work speaks to all of these considerations to capture the essence of this place, creating a local landmark at Airway that offers a unique aesthetic expression. In 2015, Airway was the most visited site on CODAworx. See: http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_27164305/airway-artwork-officially-lighted-east-central-el-paso See: http://forecastpublicart.org/public-art-review/current-projects/2015/02/airway/