COLORADO SPRINGS — A unique and compelling main entrance to Weidner Field – new home of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club – is now anchored by a stunning public art sculpture, “The Epicenter,” officially unveiled during a ceremony on Friday.
The sculpture was designed to capture the attention of fans and visitors, draw in the entire community, and anchor the $47 million stadium to the newly emerging and vibrant community of southwest Downtown Colorado Springs.
Weighing more than 164,000 pounds, the 35-foot tall, 65-foot in diameter, stainless steel, $4.5 million engineering masterpiece was designed and fabricated by the local firm of Springs Fabrication. More than 20,000 work hours went into the project.
“‘TheEpicenter’ is designed to showcase the views, sounds, and emotions people experience as they enter southwest Downtown Colorado Springs through the gateway of the Cimarron Street bridge,” said Weidner Apartment Homes Vice President Greg Cerbana. “Envisioned by the Partnership of Switchbacks Football Club and Weidner Apartment Homes, the sculpture is an iconic placemaking piece and an artful representation of ‘all things possible’ in Colorado Springs. Weidner founder and Colorado Springs native Dean Weidner commissioned the sculpture as a gift to the city reflecting the optimism of the Colorado Springs of tomorrow.”
“The re-emergence of Downtown Colorado Springs as a place where people want to live, work, and play was a key motivator for me to participate in the repositioning of this once vacant lot,” said Weidner. “During the planning for a development that combines walkable character with an engaging urban experience, we realized that investing in the quality of the streetscapes by including public art into the overall design was critical. I look forward to the community being able to connect with and enjoy this new and iconic symbol of this great city.”
The design and construction of the sculpture included the stadium architectural firm Perkins&Will and Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers, along with the locally owned Springs Fabrication, LLC. The team worked together to bring Dean Weidner’s aspirational vision to life.
From the distinctive finish material to the dynamic shape of the sculpture, the design was envisioned as a nod to the neighborhood’s unique and rich history while looking to celebrate the unlimited potential of the city’s future. The brushed and polished stainless-steel rings have a “dragon-scale” finish and were chosen to be both modern and reflective. Modern, to represent soccer as the largest and fastest growing sport in the world. Reflective, to honor Colorado Springs’ rich heritage and the site’s history as a foundry.
“We anticipate that ‘The Epicenter’ will be among the most coveted locations for visitors and locals alike to gather in our city and that it will be one of the most photographed backdrops for a venue of this size throughout the U.S.,” said Switchbacks President Nick Ragain. “The gentle slope and circular design of the sculpture and stadium main entrance was intentional in its function, enabling a greater number of people to queue up safely at the entrance off the street and enable physical accessibility for all,” said Ragain.
More than 7,000 pieces make up the rings and the remote-controlled digital LED lighting system. “Community excitement around Weidner Field’s entrance equals other prominent placemaking works of art in major cities,” said Cerbana. “Mirroring the city skyline and the backdrop of the front range will be an ever-changing reflection of this unique destination that varies with the seasons, the time of day, and the activity within Weidner Field itself.”
With the interwoven rings and sphere located near the stadium’s main entrance, placement options for supporting columns needed to maintain clear pedestrian pathways while maintaining the artistic vision of a dynamic and seemingly nearly unstable structure. The resulting configuration features long, slender columns rooted outside of the pedestrian pathways and canted at aggressive angles intended to inspire wonder for the stability of the structure. Due to the structure’s imposing size and its superior aerodynamic design, the structure was analyzed through wind computer simulations to “tune” the ring’s dimensions to their current perfected state.
“We are extremely proud and humbled to have been trusted by the Partnership to design and build such an iconic piece of functional art,” said Springs Fabrication President Tom Neppl. “For more than 12 months, our team logged more than 20,000 work hours from concept through erection. It was a mettle-testing honor to showcase all of our talent on this extremely challenging design,” said Neppl. “As a result, the entire Colorado Springs community, along with visitors from around the world, will have the opportunity to enjoy this architectural and engineering wonder day or night, 365 days a year, for generations to come.”