Sylvan Portals

Submitted by Brad Goldberg

2+

Client: City of Richardson, Texas

Location: Richardson, TX, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $2,000,000

Project Team

Landscape Architect

David Baldwin

DCBA Landscape Architects

Stone Installer

Rob Barnes

Dee Brown Inc

Stone Fabricator

Jason Frank

Coldspring

Overview

Comprised of 180 acres of virgin old-growth hardwood forest dating from the time of the founding families and the Caddo Indians, Spring Creek Nature Area is strategically located adjacent to the fast-growing urban environment of CityLine, in Richardson, Texas, a suburb in Dallas County. The vision for this project is as a natural sanctuary with multi-use trails and picnic areas within an energetic urban environment, a rare preserved ecosystem that provides a natural oasis for generations to come within the heart of one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s most dynamic development corridors. The artist was tasked with creating new visually engaging entrance experiences as public artworks, carved out of the virgin forest, at two separate corners of the nature area, and collaborating with a landscape architect to see the project to its fulfillment. Located at the corners of Renner Road and both Routh Creek Parkway and Plano Road, the public artworks were required to be highly visible to vehicular traffic as well as function as trailheads to future trails within the nature preserve as well as be connected by a 4200’ perimeter walking/biking trail, built during installation of the artwork.

Goals

The City of Richardson tasked the Artist and Landscape Architect with creating two new pedestrian entrances to Spring Creek Nature Area as a work of art. The new entrance areas exist at the intersection of commercial, residential and the natural world of a virgin forest. The Artist determined to create two portals, bold in scale, yet quiet and natural as befitting their setting. A gathering space, set directly behind each portal, consists of leaf-shaped seating elements that would provide respite for pedestrians and bikers, with the massiveness of the portals providing a transition between the built and natural world. The iconic portals, comprised of Kenoran Sage granite, were designed to be highly visible to both pedestrians and nearby vehicular traffic, to create a sense of place and of welcoming, and to invite passersby to explore. Granite seating walls create a sense of enclosure for each gathering space and provide a sense of grounding. The Artist’s personal goal was to create a work that was contemporary, yet timeless, built to stand the test of time.

Process

The City of Richardson, through an RFQ process, selected a team consisting of the Artist and a Landscape Architect and tasked the team with creating two new entrance experiences at Spring Creek Nature Area in Richardson, Texas of Dallas County. The Artist led the design process, in collaboration with the Landscape Architect, to compete the initial conceptual study for the two pedestrian entrances, and over the three-year span of design development, fabrication, and installation of the completed work. Installation of all stone aspects were under the purview of the Artist, and installation of the foundations, all hardscape, and plantings was the responsibility of the Landscape Architect.

Additional Information

One of the unique aspects of this project was the use of natural quarry blocks, leaving the drill marks from extraction intact as the primary texture of the work. The granite blocks were quarried in Ontario, Canada, to the specifications laid out in Goldberg’s drawings and Coldspring’s shop drawings. A 4' height x 4' depth x various length module with drill marks on both sides was employed for the project. One of the challenges during the quarrying process was that it took place during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Ultimately, 8,250 cubic feet of quarried material was shipped to Coldspring’s plant and an exacting fabrication of the massive blocks proceeded, with two keystone blocks being the largest at 4 x 4 x 14 feet and weighing approximately 35,000 lbs. each. Following several months of fabrication, a well-planned sequence of shipping the blocks to Texas ensued, timed to insure progressive installation. The two corner entrance areas were each approximately 20,000 square feet, with the portals measurements totaling 21’-3” H x 40’-8” W and 17’ H x 38’-8” W, respectively, not inclusive of the attached linear walls. The leaf-shaped portal openings are approximately 18’ and 14’ high.