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West Riverfront Park

West Riverfront Concept

Artist team Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan of Seattle, WA have been commissioned for a large-scale artwork at the new West Riverfront Park, which is an 11-acre civic park on the site of the former Thermal Transfer Plant in downtown Nashville.

The “River Concept” artwork at the entry to Nashville’s new West Riverfront Park draws inspiration from its significant location at the Demonbreun Street terminus, a former tributary to the River. Conceived as a bold and experiential sculpture, the art will form a nexus between the river and downtown Nashville. The art takes advantage of the dynamic views from many vantages such as looking down Demonbreun Street, along 1st Avenue, from the new amphitheater, and park and from the Shelby Street/Seigenthaler Bridge. Its reflectivity and color make it interactive and always changing throughout the day and night.

Conceptually, the artwork draws on the city’s relationship to the river, symbolically reuniting the city’s past and present as well as the natural and urban environment of downtown. Nashville’s historic growth as a city was intimately connected to the Cumberland River, but with the rise of the railroads, and later roads, the connection to the river diminished. In recent years Nashville has been redeveloping the waterfront and downtown to foster this reconnection and take full advantage of the great resource and public amenities it provides. Drawing from both the form and experience of the Cumberland River, the artwork embodies this re-connection to the river.

The form of the sculpture is based on the meandering curves of the Cumberland River as it passes through Davidson County. Anticipated to be approximately 45 feet tall, the ribbon-like form will be approximately three to four feet wide and 8 to 12 inches thick.

The river-facing side would be finished with highly polished and reflective stainless steel plate activated by natural sunlight, which will cause distorted mirror interactive experiences. Like the changing reflectivity of the river itself, the rolling form will create real time reflections of people, the surrounding environment and changing sky. The very top of this face, pointing toward the sky, could be a wind-activated stainless steel textile of reflective metal pieces creating a dynamic shimmer of light best viewed from the Shelby Street/Seigenthaler Bridge, making the experience from that vantage point unique. These materials may also be used at the bottom of the sculpture, hanging under the lowest bend and creating the sound of chiming metal picks when there is a breeze.

On the top portion of the city-facing side of the sculpture, color changing LED strip lights will illuminate a series of horizontally inset acrylic rods or tubes from the edge, creating a textured ribbon of electric light at night.

At the lowest bend of the sculpture a seating area of durable hardwood is envisioned so people can immerse themselves in the experience of the undulating form, reflections and colored light. Connecting the sculpture to the sidewalk, a paving line is proposed to mark the location of a former tributary that drained through the site and into the Cumberland River.

*Artwork concept is still in design development. Specific details are subject to change. Metro Arts anticipates the artwork will be installed Summer 2015.

About the Artists

Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan’s collaboration as an artist team began in 2001 and has fostered a wide range of innovative site-specific public art commissions and plans. Their Seattle-based studio, Haddad|Drugan LLC, specializes in conceptually driven site-specific art that is often integrated into large-scale infrastructure projects. Past and current work includes art for stormwater utilities, transportation projects, museums, libraries, urban plazas and parks. Their work has received awards from various agencies including Americans for the Arts, and has been published in Sculpture, Landscape Architecture, Land Forum, Landscape Journal, and Arcade.

About the Park

West Riverfront Park

The park will include more than a mile of multi-use greenway trails, Nashville’s first downtown dog park, ornamental gardens, a 1.5-acre event lawn called the Green and an 6,500 seat amphitheater.

The park is scheduled for completion in summer, 2015. The design of the park was inspired by the limestone bluffs and edges of the Cumberland River, along which it sits. Portions of the park are perched above the Cumberland River and provide a spectacular view of river activity and the rolling hills of the landscape beyond.

More about West Riverfront Park

Questions? Email caroline.vincent@nashville.gov

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