Sun Flowers - CODAworx

Sun Flowers

Client: Palo Alto Public Art Commission

Location: Palo Alto, CA, United States

Completion date: 2002

Project Team

Designer + fabricator

Jeffrey Reed

Reed Madden Designs

Designer + fabricator

Jennifer Madden

Reed Madden Designs


Seven kinetic sculptural flowers spin in the breeze. Solar panels hidden within the petals charge a lithium battery by day and light the sculptures by night. (24 L.E.D. lights are located within each Poppy-like collar.) This public seating area was the first in California to turn former parking spaces into outdoor public eateries, now called “parklets,” and was used as a prototype for the City of San Francisco. This piece won two “Best of the Bay” A.I.A. awards for Urban Design and Green Design.


The art committee's goal was to include solar to highlight the City's commitment to renewable energy. The artists' goals were to create a usable place that encouraged gathering both day and night, and to use green building techniques such as the use of recycled metal, low-carbon concrete, water retention and drought-tolerant planting. An educational plaque explains the kinetic and solar components, and the flowers themselves are inspired by the State flower: California poppies (on California Avenue).

Additional Information

To create the feeling of safety and maximum seating, there is a geologically-inspired bench. The height of this bench was finessed during construction. It needed to be high enough to block the view of spinning car wheels to feel safe, but not so high that one felt cutoff from the life of the street or be unable to rest one's arms on.