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Around the nation, public art and artists have come to play a vital role in the design of new light rail systems, sometimes as collaborators with architects and engineers, sometimes by integrating works into system surfaces and structures, and sometimes as creators of commissioned stand-alone artworks.
The Federal Transportation Administration encourages the inclusion of public art on light rail systems because of its ability to contribute to a sense of neighborhood pride near stations.
Light rail is a changing force for change in our community’s image and growth. Recognizing that public art is an integral element to the success of the system, METRO was proud to incorporate artists in the design process from the very start.
METRO teamed with local architects and engineers, environmental experts and artists to plan and design the Valley’s first light rail system. This Urban Design Task Force developed a set of principles that prioritized and guided all aspects of station design. Top concerns included shade, safety and maintenance, and the ability of each station’s elements—shade louvers, canopies, seats and structural elements—to work within its neighborhood context.
With over 100 volunteers serving on Station Art Review Panels and on our Regional Rail Arts Committee, and with countless public meetings, the METRO art program is truly a communal effort
The public art that resulted from this process is a celebration of place and community. Each station boasts its own unique character with artwork that strives to add substance, style and even a touch of whimsy to the transit experience. As a whole, the METRO art program is a major example of how art can transform the landscape and enhance the public dialogue.
While METRO’s 28 artists were constrained by safety and maintenance requirements, and by the desert environment, they all sought to captivate and challenge us with their creativity. Some capitalized on extra space to create massive landmarks while others scattered elements along the station platform with a multitude of stories and images.
METRO light rail promises to enrich the way people work, play and move around the region; rethinking the way the cities grow and are re-energized. As the train passes through every neighborhood, business district and downtown, so do the benefits of a collaborative design process—a process melding artists, their creativity and their art.