Phoenix Light Passage

Submitted by James Carpenter

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Client: City of Phoenix Public Art

Location: PHOENIX, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $1,300,000

Project Team

Engineer

N/A

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Lighting

Christopher Cheap

Dot Dash

Overview

The artwork transforms the incoming daylight into a soft, volumetric expression of Phoenix’s desert light, transforming the circulation bridge into a passage of landscape and skyscape.

The 194’ long x 9’-6” high x 3’ deep artwork’s colors reflect the tonalities of the warm landscape and the extraordinary colors of the sky transitioning from dark blue through the sunset into the clear dark nights. The intermixing light of the blue and gold cells speaks to the merging of landscape and sky. The work is a poetic translation of the constant and powerful presence of the horizon line in Arizona’s landscape.

The artwork runs the length of the renovated circulation bridge linking the North Concourse with the newly renovated Terminal 3 and Grand Hall. The luminous volume of the artwork is generated by sunlight entering the bridge’s west-facing window wall and interacting with a matrix of suspended gold and blue hexagonal reflectors, the resulting effects captured by a delicately etched plane of glass.

Goals

Commissioned by City of Phoenix Public Art, the artwork reduces the intensity of Phoenix’s light while accentuating its specific spatial and temporal qualities. Spanning a pedestrian bridge and defining a key transition between terminals, the reflectors imbue the incoming light with color and optical effects, that when viewed in motion, spark a dream-like sense of wonderment and welcome respite from the frantic pace of air travel. At night, a calming level of artificial light is punctuated by exterior light activity.

Process

The lightweight system required particular attention as it occupies a pedestrian bridge. Sprung tension rods support the hexagonal reflector forms. The reflector forms are suspended to face in and out. This simple system, which only features one form, presents a subtly complex array. The two anodized colors have a multiplicity of shades as they interact.

As in all our projects, drawings, renderings, physical scale models, full scale mock-ups and digital modelling were extensively used to establish the form, its performance and feasibility

Additional Information

The hexagonal forms and their interactions are experienced through the lightly etched glass which coalesces the incoming daylight and hexagonal forms’ effects. Diffracted light from the polished edges between the glass adds a level of activity and reveals direct views of the hexagons. Lighting behind the work along the window wall, activates the artwork at night, the dynamism generated by the observers’ shifting point of view. The Phoenix Light Passage offers a linear almost cinematically temporal experience marking passage across the pedestrian bridge.