Have you ever thought that artwork could capture clean and renewable energy from nature without affecting its connectivity with the community? The gleaming arch Rio Iluminado is ready to bring an entirely new transformation in the waterfront of downtown Willimantic. On the Connecticut Arts Day, the artwork Rio Iluminado was awarded as the winner of the LAGI Willimantic design competition.
We are honored to have been named winners of the @poweredbyart Willimantic Design Competition to establish a new whitewater park on the Willimantic River with public amenities powered by on-site renewable energy. Check out our winning design boards! https://t.co/iIvA6edkzP #WWP pic.twitter.com/rqPTQuxTUL
— Pirie Associates (@PirieAssociates) 25 April 2018
The competition, organized by Land Art Generator, shows that how innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration, culture, and the increasing technology role can give a new form to the aesthetic change in our environment. Aiming to accelerate the transition to the post-carbon economy, LAGI brings up and adapts more contingent models of renewable energy.
To execute this design at new whitewater park along the Willimantic River, Land Art Generator worked with Willimantic Whitewater in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts and the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Designed by Pirie Associates Architects, Lindsay Suter, and sculptor Gar Waterman, Rio Illuminado will be placed on the waterfront of downtown Willimantic. The arch, covering 900 sq. ft solar array, will generate 25.5 MWh annually for 3.4 acres of the brownfield site owned by WWP. It will generate energy using the sun while maintaining the community’s connection with nature. It is expected that Willimantic’s multi-use recreational site is able to accelerate the socio-economic development for post-industrial Windham which incorporates the former city.
The WWP President James Turner says, “Rio Iluminado cleverly addresses how to bring the river closer to the community—and vice-versa. We are thrilled to have a project design that will result in such an intricately conceived and strikingly executed work of art for the community to enjoy and be inspired by for years to come.” Energy Technical Specialist Jessica LeClair says, “ISE sees the project as a possible model that can be shared across the state.”
For phase II of the development of Rio Illuminado, the team will begin with the detailed design stage. From the intricate drawings for fabrication and equipment fitting to a quantity survey and estimation of cost, the team will provide a prototype and commission planning. Phase III will include the fabrication, instruction, and production of Rio Iluminado. Its cost estimate is between $250,000 and $500,000.
“Willimantic, as a community in its post-industrial reckoning, struggled to identify itself and its future,” says Laura Pirie, principal of Pirie Associates Architects. “The LAGI program resonated with us, from a community purpose-making point of view.”
“You’re creating a sense of space, you’re a creating this physical space that makes people feel further connected, and then you’re putting energy back on the grid,” says Kristina Newman-Scott, Director of Culture in the Office of the Arts & Historic Preservation, with the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).