Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Building a Beacon for Uptown

David Woo/Staff photographer
A 40-foot stainless steel sculpture is scheduled for completion next month in the West Village area of Uptown. It's intended to be a beacon for the neighborhood and a reminder of previous plans for the area.
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When the 40-foot sculpture Tower II is completed in Uptown next month, local leaders hope it will become both an icon for the neighborhood and a sly reminder of a vanished vision.
The stainless steel tower will be set with programmable LED lights that should make it stand out, even given the nearby bustle of North Central Expressway.
“It’s going to be very noticeable,” said Neal Sleeper, president of Cityplace Co., which developed West Village and much of the surrounding area. “We want it to be something that will remind people they’re in Uptown.”
The sculpture is part of an extensive reworking of the old Hank Haney driving range. The project includes new pocket parks, two other sculptures, the extension of two nearby streets and, a few yards away, a new DART rail entrance and the McKinney Avenue Trolley turntable.
The project is scheduled to open in mid-December.
Eventually the land will be developed into residential and retail space, Sleeper said.
The creator of Tower II, Venice, Calif., artist Cliff Garten, said he wanted art that would stand out and yet be built to a scale that comfortably fits with its surroundings.
“It occupies an intermediate scale between the pedestrian realm and the surrounding architecture,” he said. “What it is, is a beacon for the neighborhood.”
For the moment, it will stand out, surrounded by a largely empty lot. But when the adjacent land is filled in with residential and retail buildings, Tower II will become less of a beacon and more of a neighborhood amenity, drawing pedestrians to sit on nearby park benches, Garten said.
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