Natural Rhythm - CODAworx

Natural Rhythm

Submitted by Dan Mayer Studios

Client: Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program

Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $750,000

Project Team

Commissioned Public Artist

Daniel Mayer

Dan Mayer Studios

Program Manager

Barry Sparkman

Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program


Stinger Bridge and Iron

Aesthetic fence engineering

HDR Engineering

General Contractor

FNF Construction, Inc.

Metal and concrete painting

Serrano Painting, Inc.

Diverging Diamond Interchange

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT)


“Natural Rhythm”, by Arizona artist Daniel Mayer, was inspired by the Sonoran foothills and desert sky. Landforms and shifting light are interwoven into an infinite bridge design located at Happy Valley Rd. and I-17, Phoenix, Arizona. Long sinuous contours and three diamond-mesh fence layers create a Moiré effect and illusion of distant markers, timeless horizons and atmospheric shadows. Violet light shafts and blue diamond-like stars merge with landform silhouettes reminding us of Arizona’s natural beauty – classic, enduring, and constantly in motion.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program selected Daniel Mayer for this competitive gateway public art project that began in 2017. Mayer’s layered design is integrated into two aesthetic fences that line both the north and south sides of Arizona’s first Diverging Diamond Freeway Interchange. Each fence is 10’ tall by 264’ in length for a total of length of 528’. Eleven 24’ repeat sections per side creates changing patterns with seasons and natural light. The aesthetic fence is fabricated with galvanized steel for long-term durability and the colored accents are two-part epoxy paint. Travelers can enjoy “Natural Rhythm” north and southbound, east and westbound.


Overriding goals for this public art project were to define a sense of place and create a gateway maker for the community. Conceptually, Daniel Mayer began this public art project by generating “Mind Map” word lists that described the desert foothills – vista, tonal range, filigree, cairn, mosaic, color field, contour . . . . Working with the idea that words make pictures, the lists informed pastel landscape drawings and papercuts that became the foundation for this design. Mayer’s original hand-drawn contours became a structurally engineered element that was important to the concept creating a natural ebb and flow. Diamond-shaped in-laid concrete designs complements and underscores the metal fence and follows through on the freeway pier supports.


Daniel Mayer collaborated with ADOT, HDR Engineering, the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, and the community to create aesthetic elements integrated into standard safety fences. The design was achieved on a standard 4” ADOT fence pole with three layers of diamond mesh-screens for a Moiré pattern effect. HDR Engineering worked closely with Mayer’s design to achieve structurally flowing lines and fence layers with cutaways for an illusion of depth of field on a narrow plane. Stinger Bridge and Iron created shop drawings, prototype sections, fabrication and installation.

Additional Information

Daniel Mayer is an award-winning public artist and received the 2013 Job of the Year, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, for “Variable Order” (40’ x 480’ terrazzo design. Fabricator: Advance Terrazzo), PHX Sky Train; and Award of Merit for Art in Public Places, 33rd Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, and 2015 CODA Top 100 projects for “Trace Elements” (two glass mural bridges 9’ x 115’ ea.) produced at Franz Mayer of Munich, PHX Sky Train. Daniel Mayer maintains his private studio practice under Dan Mayer Studios in Tempe, AZ and has transitioned his artist’s books and experimental print aesthetics into public art. For the past 35 years Mayer has produced interdisciplinary handmade books under Pyracantha Press that he Directs, Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts, Arizona State University.