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Desert Passage Canopy Dreams

Desert Passage Canopy Dreams
Desert Passage Canopy Dreams

Public Art: Desert Passage Canopy Dreams

Sculptor: © Barbara Grygutis

Sculptor’s Website:

Date Unveiled: 2010

Description: Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams is a 25 foot high, 200-foot long sculptural pedestrian walkway. The sculpture is made from painted steel, laser-cut aluminum, and light, the design of the curvilinear bridge creates a formal promenade while referencing the unique natural and cultural history of the local environment.

Artist’s Statement: “Within the realm of daily life on campus, I wanted to interject a sense of wonderment, a call to awareness and an opportunity for reflection in Desert Passage.”

Location: The Desert Passage, Canopy Dreams can be found at the Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s Pecos Campus, Chandler, Arizona, United States.

Desert Passage Canopy Dreams

Press Release: Desert Passage dexterously fulfills the dual functions of providing a passage from the newly-constructed Ironwood Hall to an adjacent classroom building, offering protection from the often-harsh environment of the Desert Southwest.

The illuminated, curvilinear passageway meanders through a grove of Ironwood trees.  The Ironwood- which can persist up to 1,500 years and is native only to the Sonoran Desert- provided the name for the new campus building. It also provided the inspiration for the bridge; a series of graceful arches encircling the pedestrian path are formed from aluminum that is laser-cut into a pattern replicating the lacy overlay of Ironwood leaves as one would see them while gazing into overhanging branches. The pattern creates a dynamic play between foreground and background, light and shade, solid and immaterial, the natural world and constructed milieu. This dynamism is enhanced by the dramatic change in the bridge between day- when it is enhanced by the dramatic Arizona sky- and night- when the integral lighting system is illuminated.

Ironwood Hall is a 58,000 square foot, $17.9 million multi-purpose classroom building designed by Architekton, of Tempe, Arizona, and built by Caliente Construction. Grygutis served as a member of the Project Team, exploring the opportunities for art and design as integral elements within the structure. Reflecting the college’s commitment to sustainable construction, the design of the LEED-certified Ironwood Hall embraces environmental factors and sustainability through the use of solar roof panels, high-efficiency HVAC system, low-water-use plumbing fixtures and landscaping and much more.

In keeping with this commitment, Grygutis selected low energy consumption lighting systems which produce extraordinary visual effects by day and night. Natural or introduced light and kinetic illumination are key elements of Grygutis’ work. Her installations are designed to function as sculptures during the day and as dynamic light-environments at night.

Acknowledgments: A special thank you to Barbara Grygutis, Kelley Kirkpatrick and Adrienne Lake for providing information and images for this page.

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