Revealing the Source

Commission Winner

Location: Boise City Hall Plaza Water Feature, Boise, ID

Description: Revealing The Source celebrates the surprising opposites at the heart of Boise. This whimsical piece features a sculptural arrangement of sandstone rocks in a circle, with boulders shooting up from City Hall Plaza, seemingly levitating upon geysers of water. The gesture of floating boulders offers a bold, playful, and attention-grabbing visual experience. To us, this concept resonates with themes of possibility, potential, and imagination, in a visual vocabulary that evokes Boise's connection to the land and water.

Boise is often described as a city of surprises. Rooted in the natural landscape, yet urban and cosmopolitan. The warmth of a small town, the cultural life of a big city. Revealing the Source captures this interplay of opposites: a circular arrangement of sandstone suggests a monumental earthwork, but the floating rocks seem to possess an otherworldly lightness. The juxtaposition of dissonant motifs evokes a sense of surreal whimsy.

Approaching this circle of Boise sandstone, viewers have the sense that any of the other rocks could shoot up into the air at any time. There is a mercurial ambiguity to what the interpretation should be. Is it a series of sandstone rocks being levitated by a geothermal geyser from below? Or are the rocks blasting up by their own means of propulsion like rockets? Seeming to defy gravity, the floating rocks convey the transformative power of imagination.

This bold gesture evokes the geothermal energy that powers Boise, as well as the ingenuity and forward-thinking governance that has made this city a world leader in harnessing this renewable resource. Light and steam emerge from between the sandstone rocks, a metaphor for tapping into the earth’s energy. Seen at night, a luminous glow will come from each column of water, drawing in passersby.

The work also provides a sense of discovery for visitors at a more intimate scale, as they rest on the outer ring of stones that are designed for seating. Sandblasted on certain stones are fossil patterns related to the paleontology of Boise. Featured are leaf imprints that subtly celebrate Boise as being known as the "City of Trees." 

The work becomes a warm invitation to public life, articulating the participatory meaning of City Hall Plaza as a civic space.

Landscape Architect: SWA Group