Viewpoint: Downtown park’s details, sculpture a nod to Phoenix’s future

[Source: Arizona Republic] — A gigantic swirl of metal mesh floats in the sky, rising nearly 100 feet into the air. Designed by artist Janet Echelman, the sculpture has the evocative name, “Her Secret is Patience.”

The sight is all the more amazing because it almost never happened.

In the midst of questions about construction schedules, doubts about materials and controversy over the design, Phoenix City Council members resisted efforts to take the sculpture off their agenda.   They had the foresight to say yes.

Now, we can see just how right they were.

Yes.  This is just what Phoenix needs: a distinctive feature that helps create a real sense of place.

At night, the lighting creates a surreal funnel of color.

What you might overlook are all the other creative features in the park, from paving to solar panels.  In the long run, they can be as significant as the sculpture in shaping the identity of the city — and the region.

The walkways include pervious concrete and pavers, which will let our precious rainfall seep through to the ground.

While it’s not obvious yet, the trees and plants are designed to shade more than 70 percent of the park’s surface area once they reach maturity.   Phoenix has long needed more attention to ways of dealing with a dual challenge: the natural heat of the desert and the unnatural buildup of heat from urbanization.

City trees face special stresses here.   Those in the park are planted with a special soil to let roots grow and a grating system to let in air and water.

The park, which goes by the temporary name of Downtown Civic Space, is also a step forward in boosting Phoenix’s use of solar power.   The shade structures have solar panels that will generate enough power to offset the energy use at the park.

In such a relatively new city, a nod to history is critical, too.   The historic A.E. England building has been preserved and is under renovation as a space for community functions, classrooms, retail, and dining.

And here’s a shocker — there are no parking spaces.  Light rail and bus stops are nearby. Residents, students, workers and visitors can walk.   It’s a nudge toward a less car-dependent future.

The park just has one lingering question: a name.  The current drab moniker is a placeholder.  The city is hoping a benefactor will step forward to support the new park, just as the Steele Foundation helped pay for building Steele Indian School Park.

Some individual or organization should be eager to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   On the other hand, the economy is still weak.  In this case, maybe the secret is patience.   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Posted on April 20, 2009, in Arts and Culture, Downtown Vitality, Downtown Voices Coalition, Finances, Governance, Historic Preservation, Livability, Parks & Open Space, Sustainability, Visioning and Planning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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