“Origami Garden” is an expressive courtyard garden and environmental artwork located at the new LEED Tempe Transportation Center, a model for sustainable design and community planning. Nestled at the base of Hayden Butte, the artwork is a gathering place and link between adjacent light rail and bus platforms, civic buildings, and Arizona State University. The sustainably designed artwork includes: gabions with recycled glass rocks, low-energy LED lightworks, faceted earthworks & planting beds, xeriscape plantings, harvested rainwater for irrigation, canted and colored concrete walls, terrazzo paving, and seating areas.
Folded under an angular community room that floats above, the artwork includes a series of dramatic elements that enliven the space. Sculptural, earthen planes with native and drought-tolerant plantings are retained by canted, sloping concrete walls and glass-filled gabions. Rainwater is harvested and used for irrigation. Steel headers at ridgeline and valley separate each facet in the planting beds.
The gabions with recycled glass rocks act as both retaining walls and light artworks. The rocks are recycled glass slag, a waste product of the glass manufacturing process. At night, the LED lightworks illuminate the glass-filled gabions, creating a vibrant space for events and interactions. Sequences of colored light respond to changes in time, weather, and movement.
Terrazzo paving with shifting chevron bands activates the courtyard’s ground plane. The red, tan, and brown terrazzo bands echo the sun-baked colors of the region’s canyon landscapes and nearby Hayden Butte. Separated by zinc terrazzo strips, these colored bands also reflect the multi-directional pedestrian flows between plaza, buildings, and transit platforms. Informal seating steps and walls situated in both sun and shade provide places for people to linger and engage one another. In summary, “Origami Garden” incorporates sustainable materials and design strategies while providing a vibrant gathering space for downtown Tempe.