Client: City of Scottsdale
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States
Completion date: 2020
Public Art Manager
Scottsdale Public Art
City of Scottsdale
“Sunburst” by RE:site is a suspended steel and dichroic glass sculpture commissioned by SkySong, the Arizona State University (ASU) Scottsdale Innovation Center, in conjunction with the City of Scottsdale and Scottsdale Public Art. The concept was inspired by a spherical astrolabe, an ancient instrument used to observe and calculate the position of celestial bodies. “Sunburst” reinterprets the rings of the astrolabe as sunburst diagrams, a type of data visualization used in diverse fields to show meaningful relationships in complex data.
“Sunburst” measures 20 feet, 6 inches in diameter and is suspended by three steel poles to float 13 feet, 7 inches above a concrete plaza. The sculpture consists of three stainless steel framework rings embedded with 174 color-changing dichroic glass panels. As the sun moves across the sky, light streams through the form to reflect and transmit patterns of color from the dichroic glass across the plaza below. The combined movement of the rainbow-colored reflections and the viewer poetically evokes the concept that technologically driven data is continually changing in real time. At night, the sculpture is dramatically up lit, providing a different experience of reflected and transparent color.
As an intended gateway marker for ASU SkySong’s 1.2 million-square-foot complex, it was essential that the selected artwork embody SkySong’s mission as an incubator for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. SkySong is also a mixed-use space, containing a variety of businesses, restaurants, and living spaces. So, in addition to reflecting technology and innovation themes, there was a strong desire to see the public art component create an engaging community space. After visiting the site and multiple exchanges with stakeholders, RE:site came up with the concept for “Sunburst.” The proposed artwork not only successfully addressed the set design goals, but it also included additional layers of meaning by referencing the sun, which is central to ASU symbolism and the natural environment of Arizona.
The commissioning process for “Sunburst” began with Scottsdale Public Art opening a request for qualifications (RFQ) to public art artists. After an initial review process, a small group of finalists were selected to create proposals, tour the complex, and meet with project stakeholders. After a thorough interview and selection process with all the finalists, RE:site, a multi-disciplinary public art studio co-founded by Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee, was chosen as the project artist. Once the proposal for “Sunburst” was finalized, the project was constructed with a rigorous interplay of structural analysis and optimization of the visual impact. Through the years between selecting RE:site and the completion of “Sunburst,” a multitude of collaborations occurred among the artists, structural engineers, lighting designers, Scottsdale Public Art, and SkySong. One of the important aspects that developed over this time was with SkySong itself. The artwork was intended to be installed in a space that had yet to be built when the project was commissioned. This new construction ended up going through a variety of changes, and thanks to the constant cooperation and discussion between all the parties, the artwork developed seamlessly alongside the construction.
Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee, co-founders of RE:site, explore notions of community, identity, and narrative in the context of public space. Drawing on a site’s cultural landscape, they create work that resonates with local or historical meaning, making unseen connections between themes and ideas. Their practice combines divergent aesthetic with interpretive design and fine art backgrounds. RE:site creates public art, memorials, and commemorative spaces that connect past and present by inviting the public to share in experiential moments, prompting collaborative viewership, curiosity, discovery, and dialogue. The artists take a multidisciplinary approach to site-specific projects by working with experts from various fields and using diverse materials, styles, and modalities. RE:site’s body of work includes monuments, commemoratives, suspended artwork, interactive play art for playgrounds, light sculptures, technology-based work, and wall features.