- Location: Austin, TX (2009)
- Client: Catellus Development Co.
- Size: 30’ x 1,000’ x 16’
- Material: Photovoltaic solar collector panels, steel, land forms, planting
- Budget: $555,000
- Photo Credits: David Newsom
From Day to Night
The 15 SunFlowers that form the Electric Garden are sculptural solar collectors that generate energy used for lighting at night. The 15 kilowatts of additional energy that they produce is fed into Austin’s electrical grid for credit to fund the installation’s maintenance. This energy is monitored online at: muellersunflowers.powerdash.com. During the day the SunFlowers provide a shaded grove for a pedestrian path and at night the LED’s in the SunFlowers’ stamens glow with blue light. The project is both an icon for the sustainable, LEED certified Mueller Development and a highly visible metaphor for the energy conscious City of Austin. Like real flowers, the SunFlowers transform sunlight into energy.
Art on a Highway
SunFlowers was initiated as a buffer to mask the loading docks at the edge of the Mueller Development from the I-35 highway. Instead of merely mitigating the site, the new design makes it into an attraction and an important facility in its own right. The structures appear like a garden of huge, blue flowers facing the northbound traffic on I-35.
In addition to the budget funded by the developer, Austin Energy Co. has provided a rebate of $65,000 and Applied Materials Corporation gave the project a grant of $50,000.
Light & Shadow
The custom-made photovolatic solar panels have a blue crystalline surface, which glitter in the sunlight. On the path the blue gel sandwiched into the panels creates patterened and dappled blue shadows.