Design Farm architect, Emma Adkisson teamed up with Jackson, Wyoming metal sculptor Ben Roth and the team was chosen to submit a design for the Redmond Street Public Art Project in Jackson, Wyoming.
Our proposal for the Redmond Street Public Art project incorporates two concepts, as we found both to be relevant to the site, visually entertaining, highly functional and possible within the budget. The work will create a sense of place and highlight various aspects of Jackson and the surrounding Teton area. We are proposing four Creek Benches and one Tree in a Box. Both elements will engage people of all ages, inspiring movement, reflection, and growth.
Concept 1: Creek Benches
We are proposing a series of four Creek Benches that will represent the secret journey Cache Creek takes beneath the roads of East Jackson. The benches will rise from the ground, create gentle undulations and curves, suggesting the movement of a creek and then return back into the ground. The “creek” will reappear again further down the street in the form of another sculptural bench, creating a visual and metaphorical connection that will unify Redmond Street. River rock will be placed within steel edging beneath the benches, speaking to evolutionary cycles and the way water moving over rocks over time makes them rounded.
We chose a mirror-like finish that will allow for reflection of the surrounding environment. The benches will appear different everyday depending on the time of day, quality of light, and other environmental nuances. The benches will reflect faces, clouds, sky, trees, the river rock beneath, and even maintain interest at night by reflecting and refracting headlamps, street lights and car headlights. Careful consideration of the angle of the steel will mitigate any headlight reflection from blinding oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
The benches will serve as a place to sit, play, and reflect. They will also be visually interesting to passerby’s, as the steel will reflect the ever-changing landscape and the endless movement that occurs on this busy street. As a corridor used mostly by locals, we wanted to create a functional piece of artwork that maintains relevance and visual interest time and time again. We also wanted to provide elements that will appear different every day, not just something you see or read once and get it, but something more profound, useful, and exciting.
We wrote a poem derived from stories told by the landscape. Our poem describes the concept behind the benches’ design and it will be laser cut into the steel. Each bench will contain a verse of the poem encouraging the viewer to visit each bench in order to complete the poem.
The benches will vary in form and be fabricated using mild steel with a chrome finish or polished stainless steel, either of which will be reflective suggesting the reflectivity of water in a creek. The benches should be maintenance free and safe. They will be heavy but easy to install. We will have foundations poured with threaded rods that line up with steel tabs located under the bench. The benches will be bolted to the concrete foundation, with a tab and bolt heads located under the sitting surface. They will be secured with locking nuts that are then covered with river rock.
The benches are designed to be in place year round. We would like to work with the Public Works Department to resolve the best location for the benches that would enhance their use and not impede upon winter snow removal. The benches themselves could be constructed by mid-March and installed shortly thereafter pending construction of the foundations.
Poem to be written on benches:
A small creek can carve a great canyon…
The gentle water, always falling,
Polishes rocks and takes down trees.
Then slips by the King without a fuss
Watering the earth and filling me with joy.
Concept 2: Tree in a Box
The second sculptural element we are proposing is a “tree in box” which consists of a real tree (species TBD) being mounted inside the glass bus stop on Redmond Street. We will use local trees that are near death or already dead. By taking a tree from the forest and placing it in an unfamiliar setting, viewers will become more aware of the unique texture, shape, and scale of the tree through its juxtaposition to the human body. This story, in its final built form, will speak about the delicate balance of historic Jackson Hole, its place in the world right now, and also the vision it hopes for itself in the future. We hope this relationship will also encourage environmental stewardship.
We would prefer to harvest the tree once the snow begins to melt in the spring, however it could be done earlier if required. We plan to use dry, solid, local wood treated with multiple layers of oil. All edges will be smooth and free of splinters for comfortable and debris-free seating. The tree will be cut to fit precisely within the dimensions of the bus stop with its longest level area located at bench height. For the installation of the tree, the front panel of the bus stop will be temporarily removed and the log will be permanently held in place with pre-fitted steel flanges bolted to the existing concrete slab. Once in place the front panel of the bus stop will be re-attached in its original configuration. ADA accessibility will be addressed during installation; branches will not impede movement or reduce the required clearance dimensions for those with disabilities. In terms of longevity, the tree should last 25 to 50 years or more, and should be maintenance free since the wood will be protected from the elements.