Part I: Airway Turbine Sculpture Fabrication and Installation Site Review
In the spring of 2013, we started the redesign of the Airway Aesthetic Improvement Project, introducing light sculptures and functional turbines with armatures to promote a gateway aesthetic at I-10 and Airway. Airway is the busiest intersection in El Paso, and it marks the way to Downtown and to the El Paso International Airport. This review captures moments during the fabrication process and the installation of the turbines and light sculptures. Below, a visualization of the finished project is illustrated.
By the spring of 2014, we were fully engaged in fabrication of all elements. Below, the first prototypes are featured at CAID Industries in Tucson, AZ. These forms are approximately 9′ tall by 6′ wide. Their forms are inspired by airfoils and the geometry of local cacti.
The turbine armatures enhance the functional poles and create a dialogue with the related sculptural forms. Our inspiration comes from the shapes of wings, airfoils and native plants, specifically local cacti.
We selected a white, shiny, hard-gloss paint finish in order to maximize light reflection, both during the day when the sun and sky influence color reflection and during the night when programmable LED illumination will up-light the forms with transitioning hues.
By mid-September, the turbine armatures and light sculptures were being installed at Airway. Installation took place at night, in order to minimize interruptions to traffic flow.
The installation was like a performance, as the crew guided the turbine armatures into place.
The nighttime lighting created a theatrical performance, spotlighting the installation as if it were a stage.
The crew, wiring the turbines, is dwarfed by the 9′ height of the turbine blades.
The next morning, the first eight turbines were installed. The clouds, the morning light and the sculptural forms created a beautiful first view.
The planter walls, still under construction, form large arcs, with a repetitive pattern suggesting wind motion. These planters anchor the four corners of the site, and terminate at the gore and the sculptures.
Turbines against a dusk sky, September 2014
The full impact of this project will not be realized until the work is completed this December. The Airway Aesthetic Improvement Project includes the installation and renovation of pedestrian walkways, slope paving, infrastructure painting, and the addition of planters, landscape and site illumination. Once activated, the turbines will generate energy. They will be tied into the power grid to offset electricity costs and to serve as a demonstration project for I-10 Aesthetic Master Plan.