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.

Airway Aesthetic Improvement Project visualization

Airway Aesthetic Improvement Project visualization

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.

Light Sculptures in fabrication at CAID Industries, April 2014

Light Sculptures in fabrication at CAID Industries, April 2014

 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.

Turbine Armature at CAID Industries, August 2014

Turbine Armature at CAID Industries, August 2014

Vicki Scuri with light sculptures, August 2014

Airfoils and cacti inspire these sculptural forms, August 2014

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.

Turbine armature lifted into place, September 2014

Turbine armature lifted into place, September 2014

Turbine installation, September 2014

Turbine installation, September 2014

The nighttime lighting created a theatrical performance, spotlighting the installation as if it were a stage.

UGE Eddy GT Turbines await a lift to the pole top

UGE Eddy GT Turbines await a lift to the pole top

The crew, wiring the turbines, is dwarfed by the 9′ height of the turbine blades.

Morning light and a cloudy sky accent the site, September 2014

Morning light and a cloudy sky accent the site, September 2014

The next morning, the first eight turbines were installed. The clouds, the morning light and the sculptural forms created a beautiful first view.

Planter walls in construction, September 2014

Planter walls in construction, September 2014

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 and morning sky, September 2014

Turbines and morning sky, September 2014

Turbines against a dusk sky, September 2014

Turbines against a dusk sky, September 2014

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.

Team Credits:

Vicki Scuri SiteWorks

Jacobs

Client:

CRRMA

TxDOT

The City of El Paso

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