Part of an effort by city leaders to transform downtown into a vibrant urban space, the new Civic Space Park (424 N. Central Ave., 602/262-4734, www.phoenix.gov/parks , 5:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, free) brings some green design to the neighborhood, with rolling lawns, dancing water fountains, and leafy trees that are expected to shade as much as 70 percent of the park once they mature.
Her Secret Is Patience, a massive fabric-net sculpture that hangs over the park from steel rings, has garnered some controversy, both because of its abstract shape and its $2.4 million price tag. Artist Janet Echelman—who named the piece after a line in a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem: “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience”—says Arizona’s monsoon clouds and saguaro cactus blossoms inspired her, though some liken the funnel-shaped sculpture more to a giant jellyfish or purple tornado.
Either way, the kinetic sculpture billows in the wind and literally shines at night, when powerful lights cause the painted nets to glow brilliant shades of violet and orange. In fact, it’s the three-acre park’s transformation when the sun sets that makes it so unique. A dozen LED-lit poles put on a show at the south end of the park while whimsical water features for kids glow purple.
There is even space for movies and small concerts, which attract students from Arizona State University’s adjacent downtown campus. The requisite energy demands are offset by solar panels on the park’s shade structures during the day.