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Doug Hollis
Unspecific Gravity
1998

Tampa Time Warner Gardens, Science District
University of South Florida, Tampa

Unspecific Gravity is a site-specific landscape project consisting of a circular reflecting pool with fountain elements based on the H2O molecule, exposed aggregate pathways that formalize preexisting desire lines, and seating based on the atomic structure of the eleven most common elements. Finishing details include the reintroduction of native Florida grasses to the area adjacent to the pool; and tree uplights in the defined drip-line areas surrounding the twelve existing laurel oaks on the site.

Unspecific Gravity occupies a one-half acre site in the science district of the USF Tampa Campus. The project addresses themes drawn from the disciplines of biology and chemistry. The central feature of the site is a 31 ft. diameter reflecting pool from which 12 stainless steel poles emerge, each capped with a chromed model of the H2O (water) molecule. A series of exposed aggregate sidewalks transverse the site. The sidewalks placement were determined by the “desire-lines” worn into the landscape by pedestrians prior to the projects construction. In affect, the sidewalks memorialize the natural use of the site by individuals without the precondition of design structure and thus speak directly to the human condition. There were 11 mature oak trees were on the site when Hollis began his design. The artist celebrates these trees by formalizing the drip-line area beneath each tree though the application of a bed of fine river rock. The rock also serves to protect the shallow roots of the trees from foot traffic which otherwise would harm the trees. The user is invited to linger in the site by the placement of 18 hemispherical seats with terrazzo seat tops that depict the electronic structure of common elements in the periodic chart. Bronze inlays in the terrazzo seat top illustrate the electrons, protons and neutrons for the given element represented. The seats placed under the shade of the trees creatively enhance the use of the site as a park, offering a setting for students, faculty and staff to share informal exchanges in landscape focused on subject matter related to their studies.

Students from the USF Art Department participated in the construction of Unspecific Gravity in several key areas. A directed study with Vincent Ahern introduced the students to the field public art: its history, process and product. In workshops with Doug Hollis, the students gained hands-on experience by assisting in the construction of the bases for the concrete benches. Students also played an important role in the installation of the sculptural elements and in the subsequent final adjustments.

 


 

Unspecific Gravity
made possible by Florida's Art in State Buildings Program
and sponsored by Time Warner Communications
and Time Customer Service, Inc.