The downtown hotel isn’t built but officials say banyan roots will crack through its atrium ceiling and pierce a lobby wall.
That’s not a construction defect. That’s the plan.
The city commission on Dec. 18 approved a $333,000 work of public art by Miami glass artist Terje Lundaas, for the Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach hotel, set to start construction next year at 1718 S. Dixie Highway and Trinity Place, just north of Okeechobee Boulevard. The work includes two pieces: one, a series of nine root-like structures that appear to crack through the ceiling and dangle 70 feet toward the floor, the other an 10-foot banyan “root” that appears to break through the southern wall of the hotel’s ground floor restaurant and crack into the sidewalk below.
In a separate vote, the board also approved the $65,000 purchase and upgrade of “Deep Thought,” a 15-foot-tall geometric ball of a sculpture, to be installed in Sullivan Park, 955 30th Court, in the Northwood Hills neighborhood. The sculpture stands near the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches property, near the downtown waterfront, where the artists collective Hybycozo brought it on lease to the city as part of the Canvas Outdoor Museum Show in 2016.
Both works came into play through the city’s Art in Public Places Program, which requires developers to incorporate into their projects public art valued at 1 percent of the development cost, or to contribute to a fund for art placement elsewhere in the city.
Developers of the $33 million Canopy, a 14-story, 150-room boutique hotel, chose its high-ceilinged lobby restaurant to locate its work of public art, a decision that City Commissioner Keith James argued was contrary to the spirit of the public art program.”This is not something people casually drive by and say, ‘oh, let me examine that.’ This is a destination,” he said.
But supporters of the project, including Commissioner Shanon Materio, said the location was open to the public, visible to passers-by through large windows and had an outside portion, the feature on the exterior wall and sidewalk.
Art in Public Places coordinator Sybille Welter told commissioners that her board of directors discussed the issue extensively and recommended the city approve the work. The “roots” will be made of hand-painted tubing, dipped in sand and interwoven with hand-blown crystals.
The Norwegian-born artist, Lundaas, designs glass for such hotels as The Breakers and Ritz Carlton in Florida, as well as for Royal Caribbean Cruise International and Norwegian Cruise Line.
The other piece, “Deep Thought,” will get gold-colored powder-coating, and multicolored interior lighting before it is installed at the site of a defunct fountain in Sullivan Park. The geometric structure, with a patterned, doily-like design cut from its metal skin, is big enough to have a door that can be opened to the public for special events, to allow people to experience it from inside, Welter said.
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