Public Artist Andrew Leicester designed the Gold Line Bridge. Originally from Birmingham, England, Leicester was trained as a sculpture and a geologist. He is also an internationally recognized lecturer and panelist. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Leicester talks about the inspiration behind his work.
What do you think, now that the bridge is finally complete?
It is the culmination of three years of work. A lot of ideas and designs early on and then working with the contractors and the engineers and the architect to get it all to come together. Ironing out the constructability of it. Certainly, the fact that it is over on active fault has been one of the great challenges that we've dealt with…But I'm really pleased with the results as far as I wanted the bridge to have a kind of curvilinear, soft visual look to it. And it has that. You don't see that much in contemporary concrete structures.
Why the basket-shaped columns?
Right from the beginning I was shown a lot of the basket work. I went to the Gene Autry museum and saw a beautiful basket exhibition. We always had three big columns in this bridge and so I thought of planting the columns inside the baskets, that it would be a very visually appealing thing to do. The basket element came early on and then disappeared but re-emerged again.
I drew my inspiration from two sources: The region's cultural history and its architecture. The large basket that adorn the bridge metaphorically represent the Native Americans of the region and the growth of agriculture as a primary catalyst to the San Gabriel Valley. They also pay tribute to the iconic sculptural traditions of Route 66 with its over-sized commercial architecture.
Were there lots of design revisions? What factors determined the final design?
There were lots of revisions early on as we were deciding what materials we could be allowed to use. Once we decided on concrete, the challenge there is concrete does not like to go up vertically or horizontally or lean into the air.