Soleri Bridge and Plaza

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Client: City of Scottsdale

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

Completion date: 2010

Artwork budget: $3,200,000

Project Team

Artist

Paolo Soleri and Cosanti Foundation

Cosanti Foundation

Architect

John Douglas Architects

John Douglas Architects

Other

Steve Martino and Associates

Steve Martino and Associates

Industry Resource

PK Structural, LLC

PK Structural, LLC

Art Consultant

Akali Lighting Design

Akali Lighting Design

Art Consultant

D. H. Lighting Solutions

D. H. Lighting Solutions

Other

Hunter Contracting Co.

Hunter Contracting Co.

Other

Howard S. Wright Constructors

Howard S. Wright Constructors

Other

Salt River Project

Salt River Project

Other

Ground Up Development Services

Ground Up Development Services

Other

Starwood Capital Group

Starwood Capital Group

Other

Golub and Company

Golub and Company

Other

City of Scottsdale

City of Scottsdale

Overview

Scottsdale’s breathtaking 22,000 square‐foot plaza and 100‐foot‐long pedestrian bridge, by renowned artist, architect, and philosopher, Paolo Soleri, is a pedestrian passage, solar calendar and gathering place along the Scottsdale Waterfront. The long-awaited public space in downtown Scottsdale appeals to a diverse audience ranging from casual Waterfront visitors and local residents, to students, tourists, architects, and art lovers. The dynamic project elements reference the range of Soleri’s work: a bridge marks solar events and connects humans conceptually across time; monolithic earth cast panels reflect the Cosanti aesthetic; and the iconic bronze bells, recognized internationally, make this landmark project unique.

Goals

Public art is the essence of the Soleri commission. Scottsdale Public Art took the lead on this City project, which resulted in a landmark pedestrian bridge crossing the Arizona Canal. As envisioned by a citizen task force, the Arizona Canal was to have a series of artist-designed pedestrian crossings, designed by Arizona artists/architects, who were inspired in their work by the desert landscape. The Soleri Bridge and the concept of a solar calendar and connection to the earth’s daily rotation around the sun is the visual central feature for the bridge and the plaza. The monument wall and the earth cast panels surrounding the plaza provide a link with Soleri’s earliest architecture in Arizona, while the steel material of the bridge links to the new millennium. The entire site was envisioned as homage to Paolo Soleri and intended to convey the breadth of his use of materials and his belief and long study of the pedestrian and the city. The Soleri Bridge and Plaza are a remarkable accomplishment of design and convey Soleri’s architectural beliefs in both structure, our human links to the natural environment, and the desert in the plants and earth casting.

Process

Scottsdale Public Art oversaw a city-wide and local design team of twenty people over a two-year period leading to final design and eight months of construction. The artist worked with an architect of record, structural engineer, and landscape architect for a completely integrated design reflecting both Paolo Soleri’s visionary work and the southwest desert environment. SPA facilitated all aspects with the city capital project manager. It was a unique design effort and one that brought together former Soleri students and designers influenced by his writings and work.

Salt River Project, the quasi-governmental entity that oversees the canals, with the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and who provides water usage in the Valley, also worked closely with the design team. Over 17 months, the team addressed issues of bridge height, true north axis, current and future locations of the underground utilities that provide power for the entire downtown Scottsdale, and facilitating the design and installation of both sets of pylons on the south bank. This landmark project, the only constructed Soleri Bridge, is one that evokes personal reminiscences and was the result of collaborative efforts that created a deep sense of place along Scottsdale’s Waterfront.

Additional Information

This project calls attention to the importance of solar movement and the passage of time in a universal language, and epitomizes Soleri’s lifelong work. Two sets of steel pylons create a six-inch gap through which a shaft of light connects with depths of shadows, depending upon the time of year. The sun’s light denotes important seasonal events: the equinox, the solstice, and the crossquarter dates. By marking and celebrating these celestial events, the signature bridge and plaza unifies past and present—the site of this ancient waterway with the legacy of current day cultures—of humans living in the desert.