Project Description

Phoenix Grand Canal

Michael Singer Studio has designed a range of integrated art elements as part of the Phoenix Grand Canal Multi-use Trail Project. This first phase of the project is 3.4 miles long and runs through several Phoenix neighborhoods near downtown. The Studio has worked as part of a collaborative team, joining TY Lin, the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the City of Phoenix Streets Department, the Salt River Project (SRP), Gavan Barker Inc (landscape architecture), and others in the creation of this integrated work of art.

The designs put forth by the Studio are based on direct public input from the community.  Surveys and a community workshop resulted in some fairly clear feedback on the public’s priorities regarding desired amenities along the Phoenix Grand Canal. The top 5 survey results in order of most desired to least were: 1. landscaping, 2. shaded places to rest, 3. benches / seating 4. paving 5. basic area lighting. Furthermore when asked about the role of public art on the project 37% of respondents said that the art should be functional (e.g. shade structures /benches) and another 40% said it should be a combination of functional and artistic. This direction from the public, including numerous written comments and personal face-to-face discussions during the community event, guided the Studio towards the integrated art concepts for shade structures, seating and paving.

The integrated public art along the Phoenix Grand Canal is proposed as a series of aesthetically and materially related sculpted elements that together with the new pathway, plantings, lighting, and the canal itself, shape the identity of this new vital link through Phoenix. The sculpted elements include shade structures, seating and gathering spaces, paving, paving merged with a low-retaining wall, and trail markers. Together, these sculpted elements are a “kit of parts” that form the project’s identity. The elements mix and concentrate at certain sites where there is sufficient space to create a shaded overlook along the canal. In other locations where space is limited, the elements may simply be paving and a few sculpted benches. The integrated artwork is conceived of as entirely scalable, focusing on a few concentrated areas as well as spreading the elements out evenly over the 3.4 mile project. The ground elements will have a similar material palette primarily consisting of integrally colored and patterned cast concrete with embedded sandstone. The shade structures will primarily consist of aluminum including the main structure, sculpted plate aluminum, and sculpted cast aluminum. Sandstone is used as both a local material and a theme in the project, referencing the movement and interaction of water and sediment within the canal system. The material, color and pattern relationships between the various elements are intended to visually and experientially unite the length of the Grand Canal over significant distances and throughout a variety of urban spaces.

Learn more about the project here.

Phoenix Grand Canal