Client: Scottsdale Public Art
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, United States
Completion date: 2010
Artwork budget: $170,000
Anna Skibska Studio
Designed in collaboration by DWL Architects Planners, Inc. and Douglas Sydnor Architect, the Appaloosa Branch Library (ABL) in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a LEED® Gold certified structure incorporating salvaged and natural materials. The main chamber receives ample natural light with views of the surrounding environment, the mountains and the Sonoran Desert. Artists were asked to create a work reflecting and complementing the topography, and the building’s natural and designed. The installation Golden Alchemy references desert sand as material (glass) and represents grains in the wind, lit by the Sonoran sun at dawn—a phenomenon witnessed by the artist on a visit.
As a home for the arts and sciences, the ABL required an integration of art, design and engineering to create a truly functional space where research and imagination could thrive. The commissioned artwork followed the architectural design, complementing the modern, linear layout with a constellation of reticulated spheres. The building was designed with efficiency and sustainability in mind—in practical harmony with the environment. The artwork extended this harmony by referencing the landscape, representing the elements and their effects (sun, sand and wind, erosion), and also suggesting lightness, movement and purification.
The DWL architects established all elements of the overall design and determined that the art should use local materials and have as little negative environmental impact as possible. The art selection and planning process were well integrated prior to the construction phase. Once the artist established a general concept and one of three proposed designs was chosen, the artist made several trips to the site to best understand how light entered the main chamber. The 96 spheres, in varying diameters, were made from local silica and suspended from the ceiling based on these observations after construction was completed.