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Artwork Sought for New 7-Acre Urban Park

Posted by Town of Cary ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Artwork Sought for New 7-Acre Urban Park




The Town of Cary, NC is seeking unique and engaging public art installations for the newly designed Downtown Cary Park. This
innovative park in the heart of Downtown Cary will become a regional destination for central North Carolina.

BUDGET:  $1,000,000 (several projects possible)

ELIGIBILITY: Professional artists over 18 who have completed a public commission worth at least $100,000 in the last five years

DEADLINE:  April 20, 2020

Project Description

The Town of Cary selected the Office of James Burnett Landscape Architecture (OJB) to create the master plan that sets forth a vision for Downtown Cary Park with consideration of neighborhood needs, recreation, historic and cultural identity, design of open space, maintenance, public engagement, and sustainability. Together they navigated the community engagement process to gauge the Town’s interest in various park programming opportunities. OJB focuses on creating landscapes that transform perspectives and evoke emotional responses, creating unique and unforgettable sensory experiences. OJB’s thoughtfully composed projects have established the firm as a leader in its field.

Downtown Cary Park will feature a series of unique spaces linked by paved walking trails. Visitors will have access to specialty gardens, contemplative water features, programmed activities, live performances, children’s play areas, pop-up markets, dining venues, and much more. The Town has a vision for Downtown Cary Park to be a “SMART Park” that uses technology (environmental, digital, and materials) to be easily accessible, resilient to climate change, water- and energy-efficient, and easy to maintain.

The Town is passionate about art in their public spaces. Incorporating public art in the park will foster a sense of identity in Downtown Cary with artworks that celebrate its unique geography and culture.

Artwork Goals

This open call focuses on public artworks in four key park spaces. Each of these areas has a distinctive purpose within the scope of the park. Selected artworks will complement the landscape and architectural features of these areas to enhance the overall beauty of the park and build a sense of community and ownership among visitors.

  • Academy Plaza: Bordering Academy Street, one of downtown’s busiest thoroughfares, Academy Plaza is the park entrance that will be used by many park visitors. The focal point of this area is the Academy Pavilion, specially designed by OJB, which will house various programs, pop-up markets, and a café. Concept keywords: INTEGRATED / COLLABORATIVE / INSPIRATIONAL /

    • “The Porch” is the pavilion’s street-facing entrance. There is a potential wall art location on the side of the building, under the shaded canopy of the pavilion’s roof. Because of the dynamic nature of this space, artwork could be digital or kinetic in
      nature. There is an option for artwork to only be visible at night.
    • Academy Plaza will be a natural gathering place for park visitors at all times of the day and night. The space will be activated at night with strategic lighting design. There is an opportunity to include a light art installation as part of the overall lighting design for this section of the park, or for the park as a whole.
    • There is an interactive water feature for children and visitors to enjoy, with precast benches under the shade of nearby trees. There may be an opportunity to include an art installation or complement to the water feature.
    • A series of planted terraces, including spaces to sit and relax, lead away from the pavilion and deeper into the park. Visitors
      will find their way to a ribbon pathway that leads to other areas of the park. There may be an opportunity to include art on the path in a wayfinding capacity or to otherwise enhance the experience of visitors walking on the path.
  • Botanical Gardens & Canopy Walk: Covering over 48,000 square feet of land, the Botanical Gardens features a beautiful Canopy Walk that will be elevated above ground level among the branches and canopies of existing champion trees and will include four key vantage points for lookout opportunities.  Concept keywords: CONTEMPLATIVE / WONDER / LINKED NARRATIVE / STAND ALONE / PERCEPTION / MYSTERY / NATURAL WORLD
    • This area of the park is intended to provide quiet spaces for reflection and contemplation. There may be an opportunity for
      sculptural or kinetic artwork to enhance the natural beauty of the landscaped garden areas.
    • The ribbon pathway that connects all areas of the park winds along the outskirts of the various garden areas. Fixed and movable seating will provide opportunities for visitors to sit and enjoy public art installations, in addition to nature’s beauty.
    • The zigzag pattern of the canopy boardwalk guides visitors to four strategic vantage points that afford sweeping bird’s-eye
      vistas of the park and further out, of Downtown Cary. There may be an opportunity for one or more contemplative art installations in the water or in the gardens that may be viewed from these lookout platforms.
    • Given the elevation of the Canopy Walk, there may be an opportunity for art to be included on the structural columns or as fencing along the metal guardrails.
  • Grove Isle & Storm Water Pond: The storm water body will be a significant feature of the park. Visitors will not interact with the storm water directly, but Storm Water Pond has several spots for visitors to sit waterside. Grove Isle will be accessible to visitors from the boardwalk that crosses over a large section of the pond. Concept keywords:  SUSTAINABILITY / NATURAL WORLD / ADAPTABILITY / INTERACTIVE / DYNAMIC / IMMERSIVE / EPHEMERAL
    • Storm Water Pond is divided into four sections: Upper Pond, Circle Pond, Tier, and Lower Pond. The ribbon pathway winds
      its way around the southern and western perimeters of the pond area. The pond is viewable from all four vantage points of the neighboring Canopy Walk.
    • Circle Pond will integrate stone seating around its perimeter, including a shade structure. There is an opportunity for a
      site-specific art installation in the water or along the perimeter.
    • A strategic breach in the boardwalk allows visitors to go out onto Grove Isle, a small landform in the middle of Lower Pond.
      There may be an opportunity for artwork on the small island or nearby in the water.
    • There are four planned viewing spots within this area of the park: one Waterside Lounge and three decks. There may be
      opportunities to include public art near these designated locations where visitors will naturally pause to enjoy the landscape and could interact with artwork.
  • Children’s Garden: Children will be an integral part of Downtown Cary Park’s success. Children’s Garden will be a place where imagination, whimsy, discovery, and play allow children and their adults to thrive. Features within this area include a climbing zone, passageway, water feature, and shade structure. Concept keywords: INTERACTIVE / WHIMSICAL / DISCOVERY / NATURE / METAMORPHIC / SUSTAINABILITY / IMAGINATIVE
    • The climbing zone will make use of natural stone to create tiered levels for play, staircases, and climbing. There will also be slides to get from one level to the next. There is an opportunity for interactive or sound based art installations.
    • The passageway will be situated underneath the pedestrian bridge that crosses over Children’s Garden. Stone blocks and
      plantings will comprise the exterior facade. The passageway will measure 20 feet long, with entrances on either end measuring 6 feet wide by 8 feet 3 inches tall. There is an opportunity for bright, interactive art inside the passageway that may include lighting or sound.
    • The water feature will contain elements such as splash pads or sculptural fountains. There may be an opportunity to
      incorporate artwork as part of the water feature, perhaps interactive in nature.
    • Within Children’s Garden, there is free play space that spans 150 feet in length. There is an opportunity to incorporate art
      installations within this open expanse of terrain.


  • RFQ Posted & Open for Applications March 10, 2020
  • RFQ Application Deadline – EXTENDED April 20, 2020
  • Stakeholders Review Applications April 17, 2020
  • Artist Interviews / Semi-finalists Selected May 8, 2020
  • Artists visit Town of Cary park site May 18, 2020
  • Artists Proposal Deadline June 29, 2020
  • Stakeholders Review Artists Proposals July 14, 2020
  • Designs finalized / Artists contracted July 31, 2020

Selection Criteria

  • Artistic Aesthetic
  • Ability to work collaboratively with planning groups
  • Quality of work samples + letter of interest
  • Ability to design a site-specific work

What to Submit

  1. Résumé/CV: Submit a brief, current résumé or CV including Contact information, Your website, Previous relevant art commissions, Design team experience, Exhibitions, awards, grants, Education
  2. References. Please include at least three (3) art and/or design professionals who have detailed knowledge of the artist’s work and working methods, including fulfilling deadlines, working with the community, etc. Include contact name, organization, address, telephone, and email for each reference.
  3. Letter of Interest: Please include the following: Name, address, telephone, email, and website for all artist/design team members; Your interest in this project and your experience working on comparable projects, including experience with architectural and engineering project teams; Your philosophy on public art, its integration into surrounding environment and how your work and experience will complement this project. Also describe your eligibility with the multiple criteria for this project from the Selection Criteria section of this RFQ.
  4. Artwork Images: Submit at least three (3) and up to five (5) different completed artworks or past commissions. For each completed artwork, you will be prompted to upload a single, main image and specify the title of the artwork, location, budget (USD), year completed, medium, and dimensions. You have the option to provide more images and information for your completed artwork by publishing a CODAworx “project.” With a CODAworx “project” you can include additional images and more information about your project or artwork. Follow the link below to publish the additional images and information for your application:  Images must be JPEG or PNG file format with a minimum of 620px width, a maximum of 1500px, and maximum file size of 5MB. Slides, prints or any physical submissions of artwork will not be accepted.

How to Submit

Submit all information digitally through the CODAworx RFP Portal

  • Sign up for a free account to submit your application.
  • You may return to your application before it is submitted by clicking the portal link above or by clicking your name in the top right and selecting “RFP Dashboard”.

QUESTIONS? Contact Lee Wilson-Hayes, or (608) 467-3040.


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