Brookwood Parkway Overcrossing Will Incorporate Public Art as Pedestrian Fencing
Artist renderings depict what drivers and pedestrians will see when the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) installs the new fencing in spring 2016, though the final work may include the addition of color. The fencing follows the widening of the Brookwood Parkway overcrossing to accommodate vehicles and improve traffic flow.
In June, a diverse committee of engineers, City staff, local artists, and arts professionals selected artist Cliff Garten’s work, which captures the local landscape’s rolling hills and dramatic skies. Garten’s work also creates a landmark that identifies Hillsboro as a city that values innovation.
“The best artist in the country in this area is working in Hillsboro,” said Valerie Otani, Public Art Program supervisor. “The undulating lines and curves create a sense of movement across the bridge, evoking the forms of the land and air currents in the sky.”
Garten was inspired by the gentle curves of the hills in the distance, and by the lines on a topographic map of the Tualatin Valley. Based in Venice, California, Garten has major projects throughout the US and Canada, and brings an artist’s eye to basic infrastructure. He is passionate about infusing the practical elements of our lives with subtle references to their location, beautiful forms and materials.
Infrastructure “can be a lens to focus our public awareness of who we are and how we use our resources,” Garten said. “We can build a basic bridge with a chain-link fence, or we can choose to spend a little bit more and get something beautiful that we can look at for the next 50 years.”
Brookwood Parkway’s location in the heart of the Silicon Forest is a perfect place to highlight the sophisticated work that results from computer modeling, laser cutting and precision fabrication. The unique overcrossing will be a landmark on the busy route between Portland and the coast, and will be part of the City of Hillsboro’s wayfinding efforts, which are currently being planned.
“Transforming standard pedestrian fencing on this overcrossing into beautiful artwork provides an exciting and welcoming gateway to our community, and communicates that Hillsboro values creativity and innovation,” says City Communications and Marketing Manager Corinne Weiss.
The project is the work of the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Department’s Public Art Program, and made possible in part by a $50,000 grant from the Washington County Visitors Association.
“The artwork integrated into the fencing is a way of incorporating aesthetics into public infrastructure,” said Hillsboro Assistant City Manager Rob Dixon. “As new projects on existing overpasses occur or old safety fences reach the end of their useable life, we hope to replace all safety fences on Hillsboro overpasses with high-quality functional works of art.”
Work on the art fencing has required intense collaboration between the artist, ODOT, and City of Hillsboro transportation planning staff to meet very specific safety and engineering requirements.
“When working with roadways, especially high-speed roadways, the artwork needs to be attractive and add to the natural surroundings, but not be so noticeable that it causes a distraction and safety hazard,” Dixon said. “This unique safety fence artwork is specially designed to handle high wind loads, let air flow though, and be low maintenance.”
Learn more about the Brookwood Overcrossing project at Hillsboro-Oregon.gov/BrookwoodArt.