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Public Art and Placemaking

Placemaking is a people-centered approach to planning, design, and management of public spaces. By integrating significant artworks into the design of a space, you not only enhance the environmental aesthetic but also provide visitors with many opportunities for interaction and connection with each other.

“Space” is just a piece of land whereas “place” connotes an emotional attachment to the land. When designing art pieces for our clients, Creative Machines strives to turn 'spaces into places' - places where people feel at home, want to linger, come to meet old friends and new and build their lives around. As artists, we think about the confluence of natural systems, cultural touchstones, historical precedents, adjacent communities, and the surrounding architecture and landscape. The art we create provides human-scale objects that give people a sense of self, an awareness of the larger community, and the opportunity to interact with fellow residents.

Turning Place into Spaces

At Creative Machines, we create art that goes beyond aesthetics to truly transform public spaces. We believe that art has the power to ignite imagination, foster connection, and inspire meaningful experiences within communities. The following projects are just a few examples of our art that have truly transformed public spaces and brought communities together.

Cooling Visitors Along a Linear Path

Creative Machines, Wet Wheel, Tucson, Arizona

Our Wet Wheel offers a cooling spritz of water along a bike and pedestrian path. The spokes of the wheel appear to be absent but when a cyclist rides through, water jets appear in the place of spokes and give the rider a quick burst of water.

Bridging the Past with the Present

“Bends Toward Justice” encourages interaction and engagement with history on the historic street where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., WEB DuBois, and Booker T Washington lived and worked.

Creative Machines, Bends Toward Justice, Atlanta, Georgia

A Whole Body Experience

A challenging whole-body experience at an athletic facility becomes a family ritual.

Creative Machines, Chasing the Stars, Goodyear, Arizona

An Interactive Experience With Built-in Secrets

Unique color patterns give each night of the week its own personality. A secret button lets people control the colorful lighting themselves.

Creative Machines, Desert O, Tucson, Arizona

A Beautiful Gathering Place

A colorful glass pavilion at the confluence of a popular hiking trail and neighborhood pathway becomes a place for people to meet and hang out.

Creative Machines, Through Other Eyes, Lawrence, Kansas

Concepts to Transform Existing Spaces With Light, Movement & Color

Interactivity has the power to significantly increase the amount of time visitors spend in one location. These models of interactive kinetic sculptures are intended to enliven public hardscapes with vibrant color. The fluidity of the form allows visitors to repeatedly visit a sculpture and leave with different experiences each time.

Providing a Place for Remembrance

Creative Machines, Bike Church, Tucson, Arizona

Our bike church has become the site of weddings, a neighborhood landmark, and a destination for cyclists.

An Entire Downtown District

Creative Machines creates practical art plans for entire downtown districts, regenerative landscapes, and public infrastructure. Recently, we have designed an entire series of sculptures for Denver’s Theatre District, among other locations.

An Oasis Within a City

Chinook Arc is an interactive, illuminated sculpture created as part of a new urban park where downtown Calgary meets a historic residential area. The enclosed space within the sculpture frames the sky and becomes an immersive color environment in the evening. Visitors can control the lighting through an optical sensor that projects the movements and colors it sees onto the sculpture. They can wave their hands, move colored objects, or play a movie on their cell phones to create their own light environment. This monumental sculpture has become a landmark in the community.

Creative Machines, Chinook Arc, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

An Interactive Experience in a Historic City

Creative Machines, piole Kabuto, Himeji, Japan

Our piole Kabuto is an abstract interactive sculpture made from polished stainless steel located in a rooftop garden in Himeji, Japan. The rooftop operates as an urban park with a viewing deck, benches, promenade, and multi-purpose stage. The sculpture draws inspiration from Kabuto samurai helmets and the Kuwagata beetle, offering an unusual yet warmly embraced level of interactivity by providing a seating area for visitors.

A Selfie Spot that Rewards Repeat Visits

The bands of this shell tell the history of San Diego from prehistory to 2017. The perforated text arranged in the bands, spirals down the shell in the same way that a shell grows from one season to the next.

The most recent dates and events in San Diego's history is closest to the opening at the bottom of the shell in the same way that a real shell has its most recent additions closest to the opening. This has become a hugely popular selfie spot in downtown San Diego. Locals started a hashtag where visitors can share their pictures online: #Park12Shellfie

Creative Machines, Growing Home, San Diego, California

Repository of Tradition, Centerpiece for Ceremony

Texas Rising consists of five sculptures and two chandeliers located on the Texas Tech University campus. Each star has a unique pattern that abstractly represents the

university’s values, culture, goals, alumni, academic achievements, and traditions. Each star also contains a secret symbol, encouraging students and alumni to cherish and pass on local traditions. The artists developed these patterns through workshops with students and employees

Creative Machines, Texas Rising, Lubbock, Texas

Neglected Space Transformed by Art

Creative Machines, Ballroom Luminoso, San Antonio, Texas

Ballroom Luminoso is a series of six brilliantly lit, color-changing chandeliers installed under the IH-35 freeway in San Antonio, Texas. The project brought art to the city’s south side by enlivening the area for current residents and encouraging cultural interaction beyond the city center. The art has transformed a forgotten space and now links two formerly separate communities.

Community Engagement

We work with your community to design art that everyone loves. We often say that a project hasn't been started until we work with the community on the design and it isn't complete until the community has made it their own through interaction.

By involving community members in the design process, they can provide valuable insights into what they would like to see in the artwork, what values and themes are important to them, and how the artwork can contribute to the overall character and identity of the community. This is the story of how we designed Chasing the Stars, one of the world’s largest human-powered kinetic sculptures, with the Goodyear, AZ community. Creative Machines hosted a series of community workshops that helped us get to the heart of what the community wanted.

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published on November 8, 2023

© Creative Machines



Our experienced team of artists, architects, project managers, engineers, and fabricators are waiting to hear from you. Whether you have questions, are requesting a quote, or need information about a custom interactive experience, we want to hear from you!


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