Chico Arts Commission hears about plans for First and Second Street couplet project

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CHICO — The Chico Arts Commission heard a vision for how to best tell the city”s story through the incorporation of aesthetic treatments in the First and Second Street Couplet project Wednesday night, with the commission and public getting a look at preliminary plans designed by the project”s consultants.

This summer, the city plans to begin construction on the downtown Chico project that will include changing First Street into a westbound one-way road and East Second Street into a one-way eastbound road from Broadway to Flume Street.

The project will also include the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Flume, East Second and East First streets, the creation of a five-foot-wide bike lane on both First and Second streets, the construction of a drop-off circle near the Chico State University entrance on West First and Salem streets and the bulbing of several downtown sidewalks.

In addition to the basic construction aspects of the project, city staff have hired two consultants to work on the project”s design team in an effort to incorporate artistic elements in the project.

Wednesday night the commission heard from the consultants, getting an idea for the initial direction both consultants are heading.

Brian Firth, from Chico”s Land Image Landscape Architects, was awarded a $100,000 consulting contract and Napa artist Gordon Huether was awarded a $25,000 consulting contract for the project.

Bob Greenlaw, city senior civil engineer, said both consultants are charged with the task of creating a sense of place through aesthetic treatments on First and Second streets.

“We have a story that we want to tell as we go down this corridor to make it unique,” Greenlaw said.

Firth”s ideas include creating gateways at key downtown Chico entrances , the potential planting of a Valley Oak in the center of the roundabout, signage that points people in the direction of certain downtown locations and landscaping that creates a barrier between vehicles and pedestrians on Second Street near Chico State.

Huether, who will work with Firth and the rest of the city project design team, offered another set of ideas, focused primarily on art components that could be included in the project.

Huether is a planning commissioner in Napa and has worked on at least 50 public art projects, including projects at the Houston Hobby Airport, the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City and the Sacramento Sanitation District.

Huether presented several ideas for aesthetic treatments to be included in Chico”s couplet project including:

* The creation of a bronze statue of John Bidwell to go in the Ringle Park Triangle on First Street.

* The construction of a large recycled steel sculpture in the roundabout, which would be inspired by the weaves of a Mechoopda Indian basket.

* A series of powder-coated steel sculptures that reflect a color gradation that would be placed in medians along Second Street near the university.

* A collaborative art project that would allow students to create collages that would be placed on a fence along Children”s Playground and up to Memorial Way.

The commission was most intrigued with Huether”s idea of incorporating almond trees into the project.

Huether, who works with glass, said he could create a project that would depict almond branches between two panels of tempered glass.

Although Huether had suggested the glass panels be used along Second Street, several commission members said they would prefer the glass panels to be used in the fence along Children”s Playground.

Just one member of the public commented on Huether”s and Firth”s plans.

Mike Trolinder, a local retail consultant, said he wanted to ensure any art components honored the historic nature of downtown Chico, also stressing that there needs to be consistency between the plans for First and Second Street and the rest of downtown.

Huether and Firth are expected to incorporate the comments from the commission and the public into their concepts to refine their plans.

Once those plans are more concrete, Greenlaw said the city will move forward in attempting to secure grant funding that could finance the various art treatments.

The project”s construction price tag is $1.5 million. None of that funding has been specifically set aside for aesthetic treatments.

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Chico Arts Commission hears about plans for First and Second Street couplet project

Chico Arts Commission hears about plans for First and Second Street couplet project
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

CHICO — The Chico Arts Commission heard a vision for how to best tell the city”s story through the incorporation of aesthetic treatments in the First and Second Street Couplet project Wednesday night, with the commission and public getting a look at preliminary plans designed by the project”s consultants.

This summer, the city plans to begin construction on the downtown Chico project that will include changing First Street into a westbound one-way road and East Second Street into a one-way eastbound road from Broadway to Flume Street.

The project will also include the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Flume, East Second and East First streets, the creation of a five-foot-wide bike lane on both First and Second streets, the construction of a drop-off circle near the Chico State University entrance on West First and Salem streets and the bulbing of several downtown sidewalks.

In addition to the basic construction aspects of the project, city staff have hired two consultants to work on the project”s design team in an effort to incorporate artistic elements in the project.

Wednesday night the commission heard from the consultants, getting an idea for the initial direction both consultants are heading.

Brian Firth, from Chico”s Land Image Landscape Architects, was awarded a $100,000 consulting contract and Napa artist Gordon Huether was awarded a $25,000 consulting contract for the project.

Bob Greenlaw, city senior civil engineer, said both consultants are charged with the task of creating a sense of place through aesthetic treatments on First and Second streets.

“We have a story that we want to tell as we go down this corridor to make it unique,” Greenlaw said.

Firth”s ideas include creating gateways at key downtown Chico entrances , the potential planting of a Valley Oak in the center of the roundabout, signage that points people in the direction of certain downtown locations and landscaping that creates a barrier between vehicles and pedestrians on Second Street near Chico State.

Huether, who will work with Firth and the rest of the city project design team, offered another set of ideas, focused primarily on art components that could be included in the project.

Huether is a planning commissioner in Napa and has worked on at least 50 public art projects, including projects at the Houston Hobby Airport, the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City and the Sacramento Sanitation District.

Huether presented several ideas for aesthetic treatments to be included in Chico”s couplet project including:

* The creation of a bronze statue of John Bidwell to go in the Ringle Park Triangle on First Street.

* The construction of a large recycled steel sculpture in the roundabout, which would be inspired by the weaves of a Mechoopda Indian basket.

* A series of powder-coated steel sculptures that reflect a color gradation that would be placed in medians along Second Street near the university.

* A collaborative art project that would allow students to create collages that would be placed on a fence along Children”s Playground and up to Memorial Way.

The commission was most intrigued with Huether”s idea of incorporating almond trees into the project.

Huether, who works with glass, said he could create a project that would depict almond branches between two panels of tempered glass.

Although Huether had suggested the glass panels be used along Second Street, several commission members said they would prefer the glass panels to be used in the fence along Children”s Playground.

Just one member of the public commented on Huether”s and Firth”s plans.

Mike Trolinder, a local retail consultant, said he wanted to ensure any art components honored the historic nature of downtown Chico, also stressing that there needs to be consistency between the plans for First and Second Street and the rest of downtown.

Huether and Firth are expected to incorporate the comments from the commission and the public into their concepts to refine their plans.

Once those plans are more concrete, Greenlaw said the city will move forward in attempting to secure grant funding that could finance the various art treatments.

The project”s construction price tag is $1.5 million. None of that funding has been specifically set aside for aesthetic treatments.

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