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Riverfront Plaza Percent for Art Project: Request for Qualifications
The City of Eugene is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Riverfront Plaza Percent for Art Project. This commission is open to all professional artists who are located and working within Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. Experienced artist without public art experience paired with an experienced public artist are encouraged to apply. The all-inclusive budget for this project is $150,000.
Entry Deadline: September 4th, 2022 at 10:59 p.m.
Downtown Riverfront Plaza: History, Uses, Character
Walker Macy Landscape Architecture has been working with the City of Eugene over the last four years to design the City’s first urban waterfront park. Located on the former EWEB Utility property in Downtown Eugene, the new Downtown Riverfront Park sits within the 20-acre Riverfront Redevelopment site which includes plans for a new mixed-use development by Atkins & Dame developers. The first phase of the park project (including a portion of the Ruth Bascom Regional Trail and the riverbank restoration) is now open to the public. Development of the Riverfront Plaza is Phase 2 of the park project and will complete the work envisioned by the community in 2018. The goals of the park design are to reconnect Downtown Eugene to the Willamette River and establish an active City park as a cultural landscape integrating histories of ecology, industry, and culture through landscape design, interpretation, and public art.
Existing Interpretive Elements in Eugene's Downtown Riverfront Park
There are three interpretive art features within the Downtown Riverfront Park that are either in process or installed and one future feature to be designed into the Riverfront Plaza.. All of the interpretive features focus on the different ways the Willamette River has shaped and been shaped by Eugene’s unique story and are locally fabricated in bronze.
The first of these works is the “Energy” piece, inspired by the nearby Steam plant. This work consists of a bronze ring with light and mist and is integrated into the park’s southern-most overlook at Nak Nak Avenue.
The second interpretive installation is inspired by “Ecology” and the braided river. The piece consists of several bronze riverine ribbons laid into pathways five of which extend into horizontal plaques with illustrations and information about the watershed, fish, stormwater and the braided river. The fifth plaque is currently left empty for the local Native American story to be told in collaboration with Indigenous partners when tribal relationships have been properly established by the City of Eugene.
The third interpretive work is inspired by “Culture” and consists of a folded bronze drinking fountain functioning as a gateway to the river and an opportunity to learn about the resilience of Eugene’s African American Community. For decades the Willamette River provided for people, but also served as the redline that kept Black Eugeneans from living within the City Limits. The work is located on the northern-most outlook near the Peter DeFazio pedestrian bridge where users of the fountain can see the former location of the community in Alton Baker Park and read about life in Eugene in the middle of the last century.
The fourth interpretive work anticipated within this related set will be a work that speaks about “Industry” as related to the Millrace, a waterway diverted from the Willamette through town which figured prominently in Eugene’s history. This work is anticipated to be integrated into the water feature in the plaza, or if there is not a water feature, it will speak to this important site history in some other manner within the central plaza.
As these interpretive works function to tell specific stories about different aspects of the river and riverfront history, artists are invited to consider other themes and ideas that are more open-ended and expressive for this future art opportunity.
Building: Materials, Space, Possible Artwork Locations
The Downtown Riverfront Plaza is a one-acre expansion of the newly constructed Downtown Riverfront Park. This area has been envisioned as a vibrant urban space that offering river views, shaded plaza spaces for events and performances, an interactive water-feature or other interpretive elements, a play area and integrated public art.
At the adjacent first phase of the Downtown Riverfront Park, lush native plantings incorporate soft textures and movement into the park. The Riverwalk incorporates wood decking and seating. Bronze interpretive panels line the walk and Jill Anholt’s 65’ long reflective stainless SubSupra Pavilion brings the undulating shape of the Willamette River’s underwater terrain to shore where it has become a dramatic interactive gathering space.
There are three potential locations for artists to consider for future works to integrate into the new Riverfront Plaza.
Potential Art Locations
1) Tree Grove in the Upper Plaza
This area will create a gateway at the riverfront plaza, presenting a cathedral-like experience for pedestrians, with a high canopy of trees and framed views out towards the river. This area is anticipated to be a more active zone, with pockets of activity distributed throughout the tree zone. Artworks in this area could be a singular or series of works that provide interest or focus or could be functional elements such as seating or gathering spaces.
2) The Garden
The garden will be a more intimate setting than the grove containing a range of beautiful indigenous plantings that creating a space of contemplation and exploration for multi-generational visitors. Artworks in this area could be singular or a series providing opportunities for curiosity or reflection. There is also potential for a more vertical artwork component near the building at the southern edge of the garden space.
3) Stormwater Planter
A large, highly visible triangular-shaped stormwater planter is located along the riverfront trail. As a long linear site, this location offers the possibility of a sequential or series of works that can add to the experience of moving along the river, potentially tapping into the rich natural environmental history of this place and/or ideas of environmental sustainability.
Potential Goals and Themes
- Interactive and fun for all ages
- Inclusive, friendly, and welcoming for all, centering People of Color
- Encourages viewers to pause, explore and engage in dialogue
- Has context to site
- Includes circular shapes and patterns
- References native animals
- Includes a variety of textures, such as bronze, stone, glass, etc.
- Responsive to elements such as weather and time
- Integrates ecology
- Embraces imperfection
- September 4th, 2022 – Applications due
- Second week of September – Application review by Selection Committee
- Last week of September – Committee interviews three finalists, commission awarded.
- October/November – Artist meetings with Walker Macy and proposal development
- December/January 2023 – Proposal meetings with feedback and final approval
- February-May 2023 – Engineering
- June 2023-March 2025 – Fabrication and installation
Artists must submit all materials and information listed below. Note that images and videos should be titled as follows: last name_first initial_image number. All materials shall be submitted via Café (www.callforentry.org) by the stated deadline (see above). Applicants are encouraged to apply early to mitigate any delays due to technical difficulties.
Statement of Interest: Up to 2,000-character statement of interest offering a brief overview of the artist’s professional philosophy, approach to placemaking and interest in this project.
Portfolio: Six (6) images of past projects, especially projects of comparable size and scope. Include the title, medium, dimensions, project budget, year completed, and location in the image notes. Teams must remain within the 6-image limit. Images should represent each team-members’ work. Image specifications: JPEG or JPG, under 5MB with a minimum of 1200 pixels on the longest side. Note that images and videos should be titled as follows: last name_first initial_image number (jpeg/jpg).
Resume/CV: Please do not exceed two pages. Artists submitting as teams must submit individual resumes.
References: Provide three professional references with contact information from individuals with whom you have worked or collaborated on site-specific projects. References will be contacted for artists invited to develop site-specific proposals.
Optional Video: Artists may submit one video, up to 2 minutes in length: WMV, MOV, MP4, under 100MB with a minimum resolution of 640x480; minimum 12fps.
Evaluation Process and Criteria
Artists’ submissions to the RFQ will be evaluated by the Public Art Selection Committee. After reviewing all submissions, the Art Selection Committee will invite finalists to be interviewed. Initial submissions to the RFQ will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Artistry: Aesthetic appeal based on submitted project images/video; ability to respond to specific site-considerations; placemaking skills;
Technique: Mastery of materials; site integration; scope and scale of previous projects and settings;
Materials: Suitability of artists’ preferred materials for site; innovation in use of materials; and
Artist’s Statement: Philosophic approach to placemaking within a diverse public space.
Artists may apply individually or as a team for this opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate the ability to create a permanent, public artwork and enthusiasm for creating work for the Riverfront Plaza. The successful applicant will specifically and succinctly address the application requirements. The City
of Eugene encourages artists from all cultural traditions and artists new to public art to apply. This commission is open to all professional artists who are located and working within Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. Experienced artists without public art experience paired with an experienced public artist are encouraged to apply.
Submissions will be considered from all artists meeting the aforementioned criteria, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender identification, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical ability. Please contact the City of Eugene Public Art Assistant (listed at the end of this Request for Qualifications) if assistance is needed with the application.
Notifications about the status of the RFQ will be posted through Café in late September. Finalists will be notified via telephone and/or email by Art Selection Committee members.
The three finalists will be invited to attend a zoom meeting discussing the site and project in depth. Attendance is highly encouraged. Finalists will be interviewed by the Riverfront Percent for Art Selection Committee in mid- to late September. Finalists will receive a $600 honorarium.
The artist(s) or artist-team(s) awarded the project will perform work under a
Personal Services Contract through the City of Eugene for the duration of the project (a sample contract will be made available for review to finalists). The awardee(s) will be responsible for working with Walker Macy and City of Eugene to develop design, design modifications (if necessary), fabrication, engineering, and installation of new artwork. Sub-contractors enlisted for fabrication or installation are the sole responsibility of the artist(s).
The City of Eugene reserves the right to suspend this selection process at any time in the event that no suitable contractor is available for hire.
Chanin Santiago, CSantiago@eugene-or.gov