Wire | Behind the Design & Construction of PHX Sky Train’s Terrazzo Floors

June 12th, 2014

DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.

THE GALLERY @ CITY HALL FEATURES ‘ART UNDER FOOT: HANDMADE FLOORS AT PHX SKYTRAIN’

“Art Under Foot: Handmade Floors at the PHX Sky Train,” which reveals how the award-winning, artist-designed terrazzo floors at the PHX Sky Train stations and pedestrian bridges were planned, designed and built, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at The Gallery @ City Hall, 200 W. Washington St.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program partnered with the City’s Aviation Department to produce the terrazzo projects.

Left: Creating the 44th Street Walkway, photo courtesy of Jerry Portelli; Right: 44th Street Pedestrian Bridge, photo courtesy of Bill Timmerman.

Designed to enhance the traveling experience for the millions of riders who use the Sky Train, the four large-scale terrazzo floors at the 44th Street, East Economy Lot and Terminal 4 Sky Train stations, and the 44th Street pedestrian bridge to Valley Metro light rail were created by Arizona artists Daniel Mayer, Anne Coe, Fausto Fernandez and Daniel Martin Diaz, respectively.

“Art Under Foot: Handmade Floors at the PHX Sky Train” shows how fabricators from Advance Terrazzo, Marzee Waterjet Services and Manhattan American Terrazzo Strip applied modern technologies to an ancient material to turn the artists’ sketches into the floors that would win the 2013 Job of the Year Award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA).

In highlighting the five-year creative collaboration that produced the terrazzo, the exhibition features a video documenting the process behind the projects, design drawings, computerized models, large graphics and hands-on exhibits. Audio clips enable visitors to hear the artists’ and fabricators’ insights about how the floors were built through 40,000 hours of labor by hand.

The exhibition, which continues through February 2015, features the design and construction of the followingPHX Sky Train floors:

  • Terminal 4 Station Platform, “Variable Order” – Daniel Mayer, a book and letterpress artist who works and teaches at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, created a terrazzo floor that features more than 1,000 letter forms and two large-scale, free-form handwritten phrases inspired by the wonder of travel. The floor is 480 feet long, ranges from 17 to 40 feet in width, and features richly detailed aggregate of stone, recycled crushed mirror, blue and clear glass, and abalone shell.
  • East Economy Lot Station Platform, “Topo Magic” – Apache Junction painter Anne Coe designed the station floor. Coe based the wiggling shapes and fluid contours of her terrazzo design on the stylized depictions of Arizona rivers, canyons and landforms found in topographic maps. The floor is 450 feet long, ranges from 12 to 36 feet in width, and includes 11 distinct colors.
  • 44th Street Station Platform, “Tailplane Patterns” – Phoenix painter Fausto Fernandez designed the terrazzo for the station platform. Known for paintings layered with colorful patterns and images inspired by the shapes of hand tools, Fernandez drew inspiration from airplane wings to create the floor’s rhythmic geometric pattern and sweeping bands of colors. He used 10 colors to create the design, and heightened the floor’s reflective qualities by adding aggregates of recycled, crushed glass and mirror. The floor is 440 feet long and ranges from 17 to 40 feet in width.
  • 44th Street Pedestrian Bridge to Metro Light Rail, “Journey Through Nature” – Tucson painter Daniel Martin Diaz designed the terrazzo floor of the pedestrian bridge linking the Sky Train station to the 44th Street Light Rail platform. Known for his highly ornamental style of drawing and painting, Diaz combined floral and geometric patterns into a flowing design that leads passengers to an intricately detailed mandala at mid-bridge. Diaz added abalone shells, native desert stones and recycled glass to enrich the floor’s colors and textures. The floor is approximately 500 feet long and 40 feet wide.

Terminal 4 Station, photo courtesy of Bill Timmerman.

The artists and terrazzo fabricators worked closely with the Sky Train design and construction team of HOK, architects; Gannett Fleming, engineers; and the Hensel Phelps Construction Company; to integrate the terrazzo into the Sky Train stations.

Located on the ground floor of City Hall, The Gallery @ City Hall is supported by private contributions from businesses and residents throughout the city and region and operated by volunteers.

Photos courtesy of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.