City Council to vote on artistic shade ‘trees’ on Roosevelt Row

(Mauro Whiteman/DD)
A shade structure may be placed on Second and Roosevelt streets near The Nash, which has offered to help maintain the structure if approved. (Mauro Whiteman/DD)

Shade structures could provide passersby relief from the heat along Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix by the beginning of 2015.

The Public Art subcommittee of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission recommended the shade structures designed for the Roosevelt Street Improvements Public Art Project on Oct. 9. This plan will go forward if approved by the Phoenix City Council in early November.

The project, which was approved by the City Council in May 2012, was created to implement street initiatives such as making room for sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities.

The team decided that shade was the biggest issue facing downtown Phoenix because of the warm weather, Public Art Program Director Ed Lebow said.

“Early on, a couple things emerged as needs on Roosevelt Street, shade and shade and shade and also better pedestrian amenities throughout that stretch,” he said.

The project will cost $375,000 and will include seating and solar-powered lighting, Lebow said. Artist Meejin Yoon was chosen to design the shade structures.

The proposed steel structure would be blue and look like a tree trunk with six hexagon panels clustered together, resembling a honeycomb.

The structures would be placed near Roosevelt and Second streets by the The Nash, a jazz performance space, and Carly’s Bistro, a restaurant.

A larger area will be designed in the space between Third and Fourth streets, across from the
Roosevelt Point Apartments, which have seven structures. Trees and bushes will also be planted around the borders of the area.

Benches will accompany all of the shade structures.

Public Art Project Manager Elizabeth Grajales said The Nash and Carly’s Bistro offered to maintain the structure near their businesses, which may include cleaning graffiti.

The businesses would not be held accountable legally for the structures, Grajales said. If completely damaged, the city would pay for them to be rebuilt or fixed.

A major concern expressed by Grajales was making sure the graffiti could be easily cleaned off. She said she personally tested different materials to make sure she could clean it off easily. Perforated steel was chosen as the metal of choice.

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “It comes off with just Old Dutch Cleanser or a scrubber.”

Grajales said she hopes that the shade structures will be a local gathering place for residents to relax.

“I think it is going to be, ‘Meet me here, meet me at the shade structure on First Street,’” Grajales said.

Committee member Tony DiRienzi voted to approve the request at the meeting. He is a local artist and is also on the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council.

He said he had no issues with the proposal and is looking forward to having shade and a gathering place in downtown Phoenix.

“(The residents) have already given it an affectionate name, pocket park, so there is already a connection to it and it galvanizes the neighborhood,” DiRienzi said. “There is a place for it to be.”

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Correction: Oct. 16, 2013

A previous version of this article incorrectly named the Public Arts subcommittee of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission.