The fate of the much talked-about Soleri pedestrian bridge and plaza proposal is days away from being decided.
Representatives of Scottsdale Public Arts, the Soleri project's sponsor, will ask the City Council on Tuesday to approve the $3.2 million plan and fund the remaining $1.7 million needed to bring it to fruition. Nearly half the funding is already in place between Scottsdale Public Arts' $1 million donation and development company Scottsdale Waterfront LLC's $500,000 contribution.
Scottsdale Public Arts director Valerie Vadala Homer said a favorable vote will bring more than just another bridge to downtown.
"A plaza and bridge by Paolo Soleri would give (Scottsdale) another star on our cultural map," said Homer of the project she believes could attract international attention.
She said on a local level it would be a fitting tribute to Soleri, an internationally renowned architect who calls Paradise Valley home.
Homer said early city master planning documents dating back to the summer of 1990 show the community has harbored a longtime desire to see a Soleri work in Scottsdale.
Preliminary plans, unveiled to the public six months ago, call for a bridge crossing the Arizona Canal west of Scottsdale Road, with an entry plaza to the canal walkway along the south bank.
The bridge (Soleri's first) and plaza's design is expected to be reminiscent of Soleri's Cosanti and Arcosanti projects. Elements include a shaded pedestrian area with seating, a 12- to 15-foot hanging interactive bell assembly and two 64-foot pylons that create a "light dagger" to mark key seasonal events such as equinoxes and solstices. Homer said the site also will feature educational components on Soleri's life and work.
Councilman Bob Littlefield said he is confident council members will approve the $1.7 million request in full Tuesday, even though he said the Soleri bridge and plaza did not make it onto the city staff's "recommended list" of projects to consider for the upcoming fiscal year.
"After Frank Lloyd Wright, (Soleri) is one of the most well-known architects in the world. I think a Soleri bridge will attract people while they are here," said Littlefield, adding that the council has received an outpouring of public support for the project.
Councilman Wayne Ecton said he is supportive of the project, but it all comes down to funding.
"The issue is working it into the budget. This year is a tight year," he said.
The city's Development Review Board recommended approval of the project's design Thursday.
Margaret Bruning, Scottsdale Public Arts associate director, said the art community would like to see the project built in Soleri's lifetime. Soleri will turn 89 this summer.
If the proposal passes Tuesday, Soleri may receive the best birthday present Scottsdale could give him.
Bruning said if the project receives final council approval, she expects ground to be broken for it this summer.