Public Art Process for Meadowood Mall Complex

In 2007 I went to Reno, NV to begin a project for I-580 Meadowood Complex. During my site review I toured the geologic features of the greater Reno area. This included the Pyramid Lake region, a remnant of the Great Basin. I was inspired by the rock outcropping and anthropomorphic forms of Pyramid Lake. Later I learned about diatoms, fossilized fish, petrified wood, and crystals, all which form a palette of shapes and forms that reach deep into the geologic history of the area. This became the inspiration for the imagery I realized for the Meadowood Mall Complex.

From these initial 2D line work studies, I started investing how to translate the imagery into 3D forms. I worked collaboratively with a form liner company directing the image translations. This occurred over a period of several weeks, first over the Internet by sharing files, and later in person by sitting side-by-side, refining the work. Textures that previously I achieved by hand, with actual rock placement, I could now achieve by directing the 3D modeling program. This process quickly achieved a final design, however such serendipity is not always the case. 3D imagery can be difficult to resolve.

This is an image of the CNC carving process. We have carved in a number of different materials. For this project we carved on MDF. I like MDF because it is inexpensive, durable and relatively easy to carve. It works well during the mold release process. For this project, we carved on 4’x8′ sheets which is a common size. The final relief is 2″ deep.

Currently this project is in construction. The cast-in-place walls have been successfully poured. The concrete patterning creates a tactile surface that invites viewers to touch the relief. A pedestrian walkway is adjacent to the retaining walls. At the bridge, light towers frame the entry to Meadowood Mall. They will include LED lighting for nighttime viewing creating a local landmark.

The wall patterning on the abutment walls rotates 90 degrees, creating a horizontal passage. The concrete patterning successfully animates the large wall surfaces, introducing human scale and interest for pedestrians and drivers alike. The Great Basin motif reads as a landscape skin, reactive with light and shadow.

The final work will be stained to a warm earth tone hue. We expect the project to be completed this winter.

Team Credits:

Vicki Scuri Siteworks


Places Consulting Services


Regional Transportation Commision of Washoe County