Barbara GRYGUTIS, Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams (2010). Chandler, Az (USA)

Barbara GRYGUTIS, Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams (2010). Chandler, Az (USA)
 Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams, a new work of public art by Barbara Grygutis, is an illuminated sculptural pedestrian walkway recently dedicated at Chandler-Gilbert Community College's Pecos Campus in Chandler, Arizona. Fabricated with painted steel, laser-cut aluminum and light, the design of the curvilinear bridge creates a formal promenade while referencing the unique natural and cultural history of the local environment.
Desert Passage is an elevated bridge that dexterously fulfills multiple functions. It provides passage from the newly-constructed Ironwood Hall to an adjacent classroom building, offers cool shade from the often-harsh environment of the Arizona desert, and creates a safe, glowing path for students after nightfall.

The curvilinear passageway meanders through a grove of Ironwood trees. The Ironwood - which can persist up to 1,500 years and is native only to the Sonoran Desert - provided the name for the new campus building. It also provided the inspiration for the bridge; a series of graceful arches encircling the pedestrian path are formed from aluminum cut into a pattern replicating the lacy overlay of Ironwood leaves as one would see them while gazing into overhanging branches. The pattern creates a dynamic play between foreground and background, light and shade, the natural world and constructed milieu. This dynamism is enhanced by the dramatic change in the bridge between day- when it is enhanced by the Arizona sky- and evening- when the integral lighting system is illuminated.

Speaking about the sculptural passageway, Grygutis said, "Within the realm of daily life on campus, I wanted to interject a sense of wonderment, a call to awareness and an opportunity for reflection in Desert Passage."

Grygutis also consulted with Architekton, the architectural team who designed Ironwood Hall, in exploring the opportunities for art and design as integral elements within the structure. In keeping with Chandler-Gilbert Community College's commitment to sustainable construction, Grygutis selected low-energy consumption lighting systems which produce extraordinary visual effects. Natural or introduced light and kinetic illumination are key elements of Grygutis' work, which is designed to function as sculpture during the day and as vibrant light-environments at night.

Barbara Grygutis, Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams, 2010. Chandler, Arizona (USA)
Steel, laser-cut aluminum and low-energy lighting. 25 ft high (7.62 meters) X 200 ft long (61 meters).
Photo: © 2010 Barbara Grygutis (L) Kelley Kirkpatrick (R)

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