A City In Search Of A Symbol - And Response

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Assurances have been given of a much larger and varied utilization of the 141-acre former Wheland Foundry/U.S. Pipe site, not merely a new stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Discussion of the proposed new stadium for Chattanooga has dominated the use of the dormant site. Additional usages of the property itself as well as “ripple effects” of the development intentionally move to include neighborhoods such as Alton Park. 

As Mayor Kelly has said, this is “a massive step forward for the future for our community. After decades of plans, studies, and public meetings, the transformation of Chattanooga’s long-neglected western gateway will begin at long last.”

Missing is an equally impressive project on the far western end of the property. What might that be? Chattanooga needs a symbol of equal size and impressiveness as the 605-foot-tall Seattle Space Needle which symbolizes the innovative and forward-thinking spirit of Seattle, offering 360-degree panoramic views - or - the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Not only symbolic of its city and region, each stands out in the national imagination and has become a tourist draw of
mammoth proportions. 

The property about to be transformed not only sits next to I-24 and is the first focus of the Chattanooga viewshed, it is also across from Moccasin Bend: from eyesore to a dramatic welcoming symbol. If done correctly, it will have the same notoriety in the national imagination as these other aforementioned symbols, become a tourist attraction in its own right, and a money maker for all of Chattanooga, in a number of reverberating ways.

This idea is too important to be left to a few folks. We should throw open to everyone the search for a symbol and its design including the surrounding park. How indeed do we Chattanoogans / Hamilton Countians want to be known to the world? Professionals, of course, will finally be the ones to stylize the design as well as engineer and build the structure. But submission of concept and accompanying images can come from students of all ages, neighborhoods, and individuals.

The  process can generate enthusiasm and pride. From beginning to end, this will one of those projects that will arouse the imagination of the entire city. And, its results will do the same for the world when one thinks of Chattanooga.

Olin Ivey

* * *

I agree with Olin Ivey. We need an impressive sculpture or symbol for Chattanooga that represents how we got here. We were a steel and iron city, with as many as 115 foundries.

Attached is my design which I sketched back in 2015. Mine is a moving sculpture of an early 20th century foundry worker pouring molten steel (water) into a mold. The illusion of molten steel will be enhanced with orange LED lights illuminating the water. In the images attached, he is standing atop a hotel and pouring the molten steel onto another. It could be a continuous pour; or, like 
Old Faithful, there could be an anticipation for the next pour. A rooftop bar called “The Furnace” was an afterthought. 

Keep up the great work—love reading the articles.

Alan Shuptrine


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