Ball-Nogues Building Giant Desert Crater


Fresh off a big year for the young design firm (including the recent debut of a piece called “Veil” in San Francisco’s Mission District and two projects honored by the American’s for the Arts 2011 Public Art Network Year in Review), Ball-Nogues announced they’re working on an experimental earthwork for High Desert Test Sites in the Mojave Desert. Each year, HDTS invites artists to create innovative works near Joshua Tree, often monumental in scale.

Ball-Nogues’ project, (working title: “Yucca Crater”) plans to explore the intersection of earthworks with new methods of production. The structure will stand 24 feet tall and is designed to be both an oasis and climbing structure, with an interior shell that holds solar-heated water about 8 feet deep.

While the artists claim the ersatz-thalassic design is a “nod to the abandoned suburban swimming pools scattered across the Mojave,” it also accomplishes a neat recycling trick. The structural formwork for the piece is a by-product of another work of theirs: Talus Dome in Edmonton, Alberta. Located on a freeway embankment, the stainless steel spheres of Talus Dome use the same massive formwork, so there is less waste for these public art projects. Once Talus Dome’s construction is completed this summer, the formwork hits the road to be moved to the desert.


It’s not a cheap undertaking, so the firm is asking for the support of US Artists donors to make it happen: “Funds will provide transportation, delivery of water, liner materials, hand holds for climbing, assembly equipment, paint,lumber, water filtration, a Savonius (wind) Turbine and lighting (solar powered).” With a $15,000 goal in the next two months, they still have a ways to go.


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