Written on August 7, 2017
We just completed the installation of a major site-specific artwork at Vail’s new I-70 Underpass roundabout. The installation is part of a light mitigation wall at the south edge of the South Frontage Road roundabout. Huether’s innovative and unique concept is inspired by Vail’s natural beauty and landscape and its world-class cultural reputation.
In addition to the installation’s aesthetic value, the corten steel “mountain range” also functions as a headlight glare screen. Additional stonework, electrical wiring and road construction for the new underpass is expected to be completed in early October.
Vail’s Town Council approved Gordon Huether’s design for this installation In spring 2016. Molly Eppard, Town of Vail Art in Public Places Coordinator stated, “Gordon Huether Studio did an incredible job with the public art installation at the I-70 underpass from start to finish. The design is beautifully integrated into the site and certainly visually enhances the overall project. It is an impressive installation! We have already received much positive feedback and are anticipating the opening of the I-70 underpass, so all can enjoy Roundabout the Mountain.”
The installation is composed of two layers of slatted plasma cut corten steel that are offset to diminish headlight glare. Each layer of steel is 112 feet in length with a varying height of two to six feet, rising from the top of the stonewall.
Huether’s conceptual approach is based on the experience of movement throughout the Vail Valley. By incorporating the slatted surfaces of corten, the Artist intends to convery the visual experience of passing a stand of Aspen trees – the illusion of tree rows ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ when the viewer moves past. The combination of two layers of corten steel creates a kinetic effect and adds depth to the installation. When motorists pass by, the installation appears to be in motion.
LED lights have been installed between the two layers, illuminating the installation at night, adding dimension, vibrancy and warmth as well as accentuating the mountain ranges’ gentle curves. The integrated lights also evoke the effect of sunlight twinkling through Aspen trees and the beautiful colors of the mountain scape at dusk.
The final visual element in the installation pays homage to the waterways of Vail Valley. Sixteen 6” x 6” inch blue fused glass pieces will be inset into the stonewall base and will add additional rhythm, complexity, brilliant color to the installation.
The I-70 Vail Underpass project received joint funding for Design and Construction from the Town of Vail via the Vail Reinvestment Authority and CDOT via RAMP funds. The location of the I-70 Vail Underpass provides intermodal connectivity between the north and south frontage roads at a location half way between the Vail Town Center and West Vail roundabout interchanges. The total budget allocated for this public art installation is $330,000.