Big Leaf - CODAworx

Client: Dixie State University

Location: St. George, UT, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $340,000

Project Team


Gordon Huether

Gordon Huether + Partners

Project Manager

Jason Scott

Gordon Huether + Partners


Big Leaf, commissioned by Dixie State University in St. George, UT sculpture is an addition to an existing amphitheater site at the university. The abstracted shape of the canopy has a laser-cut design to induce the feeling of standing under a canopy of trees. The rustic look of Corten steel deflects harsh sunlight and will develop a weathered look over time, adding to the tree canopy ambience. The existing amphitheater site will become a go-to gathering space for the university for students, staff, and visitors to sit, relax, study, or otherwise enjoy a sunny day without the threat of harsh, direct sunlight.


Gordon Huether Studio was selected to complete the design, fabrication, and installation of a public art commission for Dixie State University in St. George, UT. The commission was intended for an amphitheater located outside a new Science, Tech, and Engineering building, and offers students a space to gather and to study.


Gordon’s approach to this site was to reimagine how it could become more welcoming, interactive, and inspiring while still allowing the accommodation of up to 80 people. The design is a canopy structure made of laser-cut, Corten steel that showcases a blend of both nature and technology. The nature aspect is manifested by recreating the experience of standing under a tree with dappled light coming through the leaves to create projected light patterns below. Technology is introduced by taking an image of a tree canopy and exploring different algorithms by digitizing the leaf pattern and then laser cutting the pattern into the material.

Exploring the relationship between technology and art was a major source of inspiration for this project. By processing photography through parametric algorithms, we discover beautiful patterns that are uniquely fit for laser cutting. We get to witness how a computer ‘sees’ our natural world, and then integrate the results via computer aided machining to create a unique artwork that viewers can interact with by looking up at the structure, or down at the patterns created by it. Through this concept, Gordon bridges life sciences with computer engineering and creates an inspired oasis that offers common ground for all disciplines to study, recharge,