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Herbert Dreiseitl Sculpture

Herbert Dreiseitl Sculpture
Another look at the sculpture as it takes shape today.
by Ryan J. Stanton

German artist's $750K sculpture finally installed in front of Ann Arbor's city hall

A German artist's bronze sculpture - a $750,000 public art installation paid for by the city - finally was installed in front of Ann Arbor's city hall today.

Ann Arbor officials are inviting the public to a dedication ceremony next week as they officially commemorate the new art piece, which has been controversial since it first was proposed more than two years ago.

Artist Herbert Dreiseitl is expected to be on hand for the dedication ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 301 E. Huron St.

The sculpture was commissioned as part of the city's development of the Ann Arbor Municipal Center, which includes the new Justice Center building and a newly renovated city hall.

The artwork - planned as the centerpiece of the LEED Gold building - starts close to Huron Street and follows the west edge of a new rain garden toward the main entrance of city hall. The focal point is a standing bronze sculpture with blue glass pearls that light up in computerized variations as stormwater circulates over the sculpture's surface.

It's not yet functional, though, as work remains to be done in the coming days.

"We've installed the bronze, we're laying down the pre-cast runways, and that's our goal today is to get those laid down and get out of here and have one day of crane time," said Rick Russel, vice president of Future Group, the general contractor for the art installation.

What else remains to be done?

"All the bronze pieces have to be fit into the flow way," Russel said. "The connections have to be made for all the plumbing and the lighting. The mechanics have to go down below. Once that's done, the artist comes, tests it, programs it, and then we come in and put the final covers at the end."

Though controversy has surrounded the selection of a German artist to complete the project, the work is said to be locally inspired - planned by Quinn Evans Architects and InSite Design, both of Ann Arbor. Several Michigan-based contractors also worked on the project.

Future Group from Warren was the main fabricator. Lighting and water technology was subcontracted to CAE from Hamburg. The bronze material came from Clarkston Fine Arts Centre in Clarkston, and the casting was subcontracted to Wolverine Bronze in Warren.

"We're very thankful for this project," Russel said. "We're able to include a lot of our local guys building it, a lot of local manufacturers. We're definitely proud and grateful."

Dreiseitl, founder of Atelier Dreiseitl, is described as an internationally renowned sculptor, artist and interdisciplinary planner with three decades of experience. His design firm's practice specializes in integrating art, urban hydrology, environmental engineering and landscape architecture within urban contexts.

Dreiseitl has created projects in the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and Dubai. In 1999, he designed and built a green roof for Chicago's city hall and the water sculpture in the Chicago Millennium Park.

His other designs include parks in Portland, Seattle and Pittsburg. In 2003, he contributed to a water park and water recycling system in Hangzhou, China, and he has been working on an urban master plan for Tianjin, China, since 2003.

The unveiling of Dreiseitl's sculpture comes as an intense debate continues to surround the city's Percent For Art Program, which funds public art using a mix of mostly city millage and utility funds.

Under an ordinance approved by the City Council in 2007, 1 percent of the budget for all city capital projects - up to $250,000 per project - is set aside for public art.

The Dreiseitl project is tapping into the city's pooled public art fund, including $30,000 from the stormwater utility fund, $210,000 from the water utility fund, and $510,000 from the sewer utility fund. The idea is that it serves a purpose related to the source funds.

Below is a video shot at 2:30 p.m. today of a crane lifting pre-cast concrete slabs into place after the main bronze piece of the art installation was erected.

Spatial Thoughts on Sculpture by Bill West
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan in my early years, I guess I'm kind of attached to the city. I feel the city is so very fortunate to have a Herbert Dreiseitl Sculpture. They are in good company as his architectual sculpture designs dot the globe. I hope to get up and see it yet this fall, in fact I can't wait...