Downtown Knoxville public art installation in progress, Jan. 2020 completion pushed back

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knoxville Public Arts Committee’s largest art installation is still slated to be built on the corner of Summit Hill Drive and South Gay Street, but it won’t be finished by January 2020.

Funding was first approved in November 2018, to build a public art piece at the city-owned park, known as The Cradle of Country Music Park, at the corner of the busy intersection.

A year ago, the Knoxville City Council voted 8-1 to pass the resolution authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with THEVERYMANY, LLC for the creation and installation of the public art piece and performance space not to exceed $500,000. 

When the funds were approved, the project was set to be completed by January 2020. However, in the months that followed city engineers, as well as the Public Arts Committee reviewed what it would take to bring the design to life and found more planning was needed.

Liza Zenni, the Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Alliance, said it was “The Pier” included in the design that brought city engineers and the design team back to the drawing board.

“I love the fact that that pier pulls the pedestrian from the sidewalk, to look at East Knoxville and the sunrise,” said Zenni.

Zenni said the vision for the park had three components: the landscaping, the canopy design, and the pier upon which the canopy sits. These components led the design team and the city to ask, “What’s below the surface on this corner? How do we support the pier, safely?” according to Zenni.

In the months following, the city completed a survey of the .58 acre area, according to Rick Emmett, the Downtown Coordinator. From those findings, it was decided that the design for the pier would fall under the purview of the THEVERYMANY artist.

The concrete pier’s design and execution would fall to the artist and city engineers to create.

The original contract with the artist allocated $500,000 to complete the art, and included design, materials, equipment rental, insurance, site preparation, shipping, installation and all other project related expenses.

What the original proposal did not include: whether the artist or the landscape architect would design the base that supports the art piece, now considered the concrete pier.

$60,000 approved for project in 2019

In September 2019, the City Council voted to approve an additional $60,000 for the project, bringing the total cost for the art installation to $560,000. These funds are part of the city’s capital budget, and are part the Public Arts Committee fund.

The additional funding reflects new information about what it would take to build the concrete pier as part of the design.

Photo included in city council proposal, Mark Fornes – THEVERYMANY

The $60,000 in additional funding includes:

  1. Soil Report – $2,000
  2. Structural Engineering – $30,000
  3. Construction Documents & Drawings for Bidding – $21,000
  4. Construction Administration for Concrete Pier – $7,000

“This is by far the largest project that the Public Arts Committee has ever undertaken. In fact, the public art committee saved for years so it could undertake a project of this magnitude,” said Zenni.

The new proposal, as approved by the city council, requires THEVERYMANY to provide construction documents, structural engineering, and lighting design for the concrete pier. The company will also “provide assistance” during the estimated four-month construction period for the concrete pier and ramp/steps that lead to it.

What won’t change: The time it takes THEVERYMANY to complete the artwork.

As written in the contract, the company will have 64 weeks “from the clearing through the bank of the first scheduled payment to the artist” to complete the artwork. This schedule, as per the contract, is subject to “dependent on surrounding landscape schedule and may have to be adjusted.”

“One of the many things I loved about this piece of art, is the canopy. It’s a modern taken on an extremely familiar silhouette. That silhouette, is the trees that embrace all of East Tennessee,” said Zenni, “Some of the lines of the design are reminiscent of the pathways of our rivers [and the] pathways of our topography.”

Photo included in city council proposal, Mark Fornes – THEVERYMANY

The search for the artist

Before this additional funding was approved, the City of Knoxville began a search for artist designs. The 5 most qualified artists were selected to present “in-person”, and the Public Arts Committee’s evaluation committee selected THEVERYMANY, LLC.

The New York based studio specializes in large-scale, site-specific structures that “unify skin, support, form, and experience into a single system’, according to the company’s website.

Part of the landscape architect team that will be working with the design team is local to Knoxville, Hedstrom Landscape Architecture. They will be working with another firm out of North Carolina on the landscape design portions of the artwork.

Right now, the project stands in the design stage, according to Emmett. A timeline for when it could be completed is not yet known and will depend on when construction can begin.

Slideshow: 2018 proposed design renderings

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