In 2010, CCDC embarked on a concept planning process for 8th Street between Main Street and the Boise River. The purpose was to take a wholistic view of this important pedestrian-oriented street that runs from the State Capitol to the river and links together the downtown business core, 8th Street Café District, The Grove Plaza, BoDo and the Cultural District. This process generated a variety of ideas about how to enhance this street to create a unique ambiance, liveliness and synergy. One of the ideas that emerged was to invest in public art having an ecological focus.
“Litharacnium” is a 20’ high steel sculpture at 8th and Broad streets designed to build awareness of natural ecosystems and the way humans impact the environment. Idaho is far from the ocean now, but 100 million years ago it was underwater. Litharacnium is a microscopic zooplankton, a single-celled marine animal. Tiny plankton in a myriad of forms underpin the oceanic food chain, provide 50% of the world’s oxygen through photosynthesis, and play an essential role in the global carbon cycle.
“Virgo” celebrates the constellations of the autumnal equinox, and an awareness of the seasonal cycles governed by the movement of the sun, stars and moon. The work lies in the ground plane at the plazas at 8th and Front streets, and across Front at the entrance to the The Grove Plaza. It consists of steel engraved discs inset into the brick pavers representing the brightest stars of the constellations that might be visible on the autumnal equinox if Boise was “dark-sky friendly,” with no light pollution. Lines connecting the constellations are sawed into the pavement. The focus constellation is Virgo, associated with fertility and the autumn harvest. The project increases awareness of the night sky, connecting modern humans to our ancestors, and reminds us of our responsibilities as stewards of the earth.
“Heliotrope,” proposed at the north entrance to The Grove Plaza, will literally “green the Grove.” The project features a 16’ high steel structure that mimics the skeletal structure of a plant. It is heliocentric and composed of hyperparabolic (compound curvature) geometry. The trellis will be planted with a variety of vines and climbers providing seasonal effects. Four to six feet in diameter at its base, the canopy is elliptical in plan and asymmetrical to its base. The work shows relationships between geometry and natural plant forms, provides a habitable north gateway to the Grove Plaza, a comfortable micro-climate, a respite from harsh sun, a partial shelter from rain or snow and a hanging garden that demonstrates storm water reuse.