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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Art Enhancement Project Proposed for Highline Canal

The artistic team responsible for creating the award-winning public art streetscape along Baseline Road has turned its focus to a portion of the waterway just south of their original project.
 
Artists Mags Harries and Lajos Héder, of Cambridge, Mass., and Phoenix landscape architect Christy Ten Eyck are proposing an assortment of improvements to a segment of the Highline Canal extending from 24th Street to 40th Street.
 
“The Highline Canal marks the boundary between irrigated property to the north and non-irrigated native desert to the south. We are interested in the differences of these two landscapes and conveying this further in the enhancements that we do,” remarked Ten Eyck, who has been involved in designing landscapes for a number of notable Phoenix-area projects, including Steele Indian School Park, the Phoenix Convention Center and the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project.
 
When developing the initial designs, Ten Eyck said the primary focus was on human comfort as well as ease of access to the Highline Trail (the asphalt path on the south side of the canal) and surrounding connections to South Mountain.  In addition to adding desert trees for shade, the team is proposing cast earth seats on the canal’s south side, primarily at the existing drop structures. Pedestrian bridges, designed in a style similar to the bus shelters and arbors along Baseline Road, are proposed at 24th, 28th, 32nd and 40th streets.  
 
For recreational purposes, the team is also proposing an additional trailhead for South Mountain, an equestrian hitching post with watering trough and a drinking fountain along the canal frontage at Francisco Highlands Park (formerly Puerto Park).
 
The Highline Canal Art Enhancement Project, which represents the second phase of the public art project along Baseline Road, was approved by the South Mountain Village Planning Committee last month. The team of Harries, Héder and Ten Eyck was granted the artistic undertaking following a nationwide search in 2002.
 
In addition to the artwork on Baseline Road, other projects Harries and Héder have been involved with in the Valley include Waterworks at Arizona Falls (on the Arizona Canal near 56th Street and Indian School Road) and Wall Cycle to Ocotillo, a sculpture, landscape and urban design project along a five-mile stretch of the Squaw Peak Parkway.
 
If funding is granted by the Phoenix Arts Commission, the earliest construction would begin is next year.
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