You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

City Hall water sculpture formally unveiled

By Staff

Related coverage: German artist Herbert Dreiseitl discusses sculpture design, funding controversy

A high-profile new piece of public art at Ann Arbor's municipal center was formally unveiled and dedicated in a ceremony this evening. Photographer Angela Cesere captured these images.

The $750,000 project, realizing a work by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, is the highest-profile project so far of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission, conducted under the city's Percent For Art program. Under the program, 1 percent of the cost of municipal capital projects goes toward public art.

The artwork — is the centerpiece of a new plaza on Huron Street off Fifth Avenue, adjacent to the new police/courts building and the old city hall building. It works in conjunction with a new rain garden. The focal point is a standing bronze sculpture with blue glass pearls that light up in computerized variations as stormwater circulates over the sculpture's surface.

Some finish work remains to be done, including closing off the sides of the sculpture and installing a walkway in the adjacent plaza.

Though some controversy has surrounded the selection of a German artist to complete the project, the work is said to be locally inspired — planned by Quinn Evans Architects and InSite Design, both of Ann Arbor. Several Michigan-based contractors also worked on the project.

The bulk of the $750,000 cost of the project has paid for building and installing the sculpture, with just under $150,000 going to Dreiseitl.

Dreiseitl, founder of Atelier Dreiseitl, is described as an internationally renowned sculptor, artist and interdisciplinary planner with three decades of experience. His design firm’s practice specializes in integrating art, urban hydrology, environmental engineering and landscape architecture within urban contexts.



Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Oh good, thank you. I was afraid that maybe had to take the photo gallery down because picture #3 actually shows the mayor using the new 'installation'.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

What's wrong with the photo gallery??

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

According to our local daily newspaper, the Michigan Daily, the Mayor is quoted as saying this: &quot;But according to Hieftje, the money that funded the sculpture couldn't have been used any other way. He added the money allocated for the public art program would not have been allowed to be spent in other departments.&quot; So why doesn't the Mayor request a written opinion from the Ann Arbor City Attorney, something he's dodged doing in the past, to settle this legal issue once and for all? MD Link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Has there been a run on urinal cakes at local cleaning supply stores?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

It's unfortunate that this story doesn't present much detail of what was said at the dedication, such as the rationale behind the design, the logistics of how Percent for Art works, etc. I thought it was unfortunate that the mayor spent so much of his time addressing the 'haters', when I doubt any of them were there. If had bothered to provide the text of his speech, perhaps a few of them might have learned a thing or two.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

I photographed it yesterday, and with a closer look, I am still not impressed. Water features are notoriously costly to maintain, especially one that's not your typical &quot;fountain.&quot; With the backdrop of city hall, it's lost with the ungainly old city hall and the new airport hangar. So, I gave it a &quot;D.&quot; Really, if you are going to have an artwork - it should be something that's viewable year-round, such as a mural, and once in place, takes no further dollars to actively maintain. Thanks for the boondoggle, Mr. Mayor.

David Cahill

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:04 p.m., are you going to take up Steve Ranzini's idea of having a naming contest for this thing? So far I have seen Hurinal, World's Largest Urinal, and Finger. Any other naming ideas out there?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 3:55 a.m.

Thanks, David, a slight correction the one name I saw another poster propose was &quot;The Finger&quot;, which they explained as in what City Hall is metaphorically telling the voters spending $750,000 on this artwork and other things like $100 million on the &quot;Rog Mahal&quot; and the &quot;Big Dig&quot; while cutting police and firefighters below reasonable levels to assure public safety.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

David, stop it now. Don't be a 'hater'. Lol.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

If this is what a urinal looks like, the men in this town have much posher bathrooms than the women!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

What role did play making this such a big news item? Objective reporting? Over-hyping? Creating a bias? I think we are being &quot;led&quot; a bit too much by this &quot;news&quot; outlet on this and other topics. I don't think that is good journalism. It is a shame, the Ann Arbor News was a good newspaper. A lot changed when it became, not just the form we read the news, but the news we read.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

In lieu of budget cuts and economic struggles, this sculpture, while certainly not the worlds ugliest, the debut seems rather unfortunate. Peace out.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

You can name it &quot; Seven Years of the Leaf &quot; pickups cancelled and down the drain.

Ron Granger

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

It's a bit tacky and gaudy. And terribly located. The blue LEDs remind me of the LEDs on my computer - I covered them with tape as soon as I got it. Why couldn't we have something cool, with tremendous appeal (and not located at city hall!) like the Seattle International Fountain? It draws millions of people each year. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Was the police department there to give this grand occasion a 21 gun salute?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

that would have been nice, but they've all been laid off! Maybe when the Mayor and City Council have the contract with the sheriff's department in place, they will come by on the anniversary!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

someone has to keep the art commission under better control. does anyone know who approves these projects by name. just sit back and think about what $750,000 would do for the city. i am not saying it should not be built. i am say wait until things get better then do it. layoffs cut in services not a good time to spend this kind of money on ART!

Urban Sombrero

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

I went to see it. Still not impressed. It looked cheap and Vegas-y to me.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

You won't be impressed when you see it either.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

&quot;Some finish work remains to be done&quot; ... like removing it.


Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Haha...I love it, CBG! That would be hilarious, if it weren't such a slap in the face to taxpayers.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.



Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

I'd rather remove the people who think it's a good idea to spend road milliage dollars on it. Remember this in November, people.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:23 a.m.

A high price to pay.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 9:38 a.m.

What are they going to do with it in winter?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

Fill it with the snow plowed from the numerous parking lots?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

Put a great big, form fitting rubber bag over it.....


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Ewwwww!!! Who want to luge down yellow ice?!?!? :P Gross!


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 9:52 a.m.

Ice luge???


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 5:48 a.m.

This was colossal waste of taxpayer funds and has made the national media circuit as a running joke that essential services are being sliced while the city government authorizes this monstrosity of artwork at a cost of three-quarters of a million dollars. The One Per Cent For Art Ordinance should either be repealed or challenged in court as an improper expenditure. If quality art such as a Jackson Pollack, Constantin Brancusi, or Andy Warhol would have been acquired with substantial investment value, I could appreciate the purchase; this art, however, lacks any substantial aesthetic value and is spectacularly unsightly. I was kind enough to give a D grade, above, to the artwork, however.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

Every artist you mentioned had his detractors, some as virulent as those posted here.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

Jackson Pollack? Yuck.


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 5:13 a.m.

This thing is not the worst thing I have ever seen, but for it cost, and where it is. IT'S WRONG.

Jake C

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:51 a.m.

Oh hey, this art installation actually looks really nice once fully activated, imagine that!, where were all the protesters who vowed to turn out in the last discussion topic ( <a href=""></a> )?


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

I unfortunately had a vet appointment for my dog at 7 pm otherwise I would have been there asking if there are any safety elements related to this piece of &quot;art&quot; that can be utilized should I need the help of our PD which is quickly dwindling while this monstrosity is erected...and how often will the water flow be interrupted with trash at night from those that are not even remotely respectful to anything or anyone...


Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

the `opening' was in the evening, MANY people were there. they probably have day jobs, and DO work for a living. Didn't hear any booing during any of the speeches by all the tons of people who don't like it.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

We work for a living, unlike Atelier Dreiseitl.