Client: City of Boynton Beach
Location: Boynton Beach, FL, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $97,000
Don Bell Signs
City of Boynton Beach
Boynton Beach Police Facility
Symbolizing mutual dialogue between police and public communities, this experiential sitework for a new Police Building extends across the plaza from Public to Police domains. These civic exchanges –dialogues, interactions and negotiations between the communities – are embodied by forms that progressively emerge out of a concrete planting area – inscribed with the word TRUST – to suggest the building-up of a mutual community. The form-language of aluminum framing and translucent panels develops a skeletal system of spaces, planes and doorways that can be entered and inhabited, to define a Public territory interfacing with Police territory. Parallel surfaces are inscribed with words that juxtapose different voices and perspectives – Police/ facing toward Public: RESPECT, INTEGRITY, etc. and Public/ facing toward Police: WISDOM, DIGNITY, etc. Constructed of resin panels, sand-blasted+waterjet-cut inscriptions, aluminum. Dimensions: 10’H x 30’W x 52’D (overall).
The general objective for this public art project was to activate the plaza hardscape, to reinforce an axis between the new Police Building and the Fire Department across a parking lot. We developed the thematic framework of Police – Public dialogues and conceived of its representation as a process of literally building-up a series of forms that emerge from the plaza. In deference to the architecture, the form-language of framing and panels evolved toward a more minimalist palette of translucent planes rather than a more realist constructional system of residential balloon framing. This minimalism allows the sitework to feel more ephemeral and psychological, evoking a person’s tentative approach to entering a police station. The engineering to address hurricane wind forces mandated a very strong material like the polycarbonate panels that were utilized, which were less translucent than the ideal. This results in an uncomfortable balance between transparency and opacity which ends up feeling appropriate for Police – Public relationships in a Florida city that is over 50% Black, Latino and other minorities.
This project resulted from a national RFQ – a competition that required finalists to present a fully fleshed out proposal for the implementation of a sitework. Our schematic design allowed for some evolution of materiality and detailing, although the built form is very much like the original proposal. We worked with the Town Center developer, the architects and the City public art manager to integrate the sitework into the ongoing construction process, coordinating lighting and on-site installation. An equally significant aspect – the inscribed content – was developed through input from the art selection panel members, BBPD personnel, and residents who responded to outreach in the form of questionnaires which solicited single words that express a respondent’s needs, expectations and values regarding Police and Public attitudes about public safety. From the compiled responses, we decanted words that better represented the voices of Police or Public communities. We found that some words emanated from both sides – HONESTY, TRUST, DEDICATION, LEADERSHIP – and that a certain level of mutuality already existed.
This project involved the usual levels of negotiation, compromise, and frustration, with the initial blow-up of COVID complicating its final installation in 2020. We have yet to properly photograph it, but we hope these images provided by the City convey its final manifestation.