Arriba! - CODAworx


Submitted by Tom Philabaum

Client: University of Arizona

Location: Tucson, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $75,000

Project Team


Ben de Rubertis

AR7 Architects, PC.


Core Construction Company


Tom Philabaum

Philabaum Glass Gallery and Studio


I was approached by the architects of AR7 to design and produce a “Glass Wall” for the lobby of the new Likins Dormitory on the campus of the University of Arizona. The finished piece measured 16' tall and 12' wide. It was composed of forty eight 2' x 2' panels made in the Dalle De Verre (Tiles of Glass) technique. It is mounted 16″ from a concrete wall and lit from behind by 1,000 LED lights.


My goal was to inspire the students as they enter the lobby. The design utilizes vertical movement of richly colored glass tiles with an apex of light representing the growth and inspiration that occurs in a college setting. The piece is titled "Arriba!" which is loosely translated as "above" or "uplifting". Densely colored glass tiles measuring 1" thick were precisely cut and joined with epoxy resin to create the design. The piece integrates with the interior space and makes it glow. Floor to ceiling windows boldly display the illuminated work of art to passersby.


We worked with the architects to determine overall size and dimensions of each individual panel that contributed to the whole. We gave them various sample drawings from which we selected the final. We worked with Core Construction to design and build the armature to hold the panels. Monrad Engineering designed and provided the integral LED lighting. We kept our tolerances close, and the entire unit was assembled in less than 2 days. The 4 entities - artist, architect, electrical contractor, construction company - worked as a team and the result is quite stunning.