Drinkwater Gateway Public Art Project

Call for Artists/Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Deadline – January 31, 2020, midnight (Mountain Standard Time)
Total Project Budget:  $150,000


Scottsdale Public Art is accepting qualifications from artists for a public art opportunity at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall in the underpass on Drinkwater Boulevard, located between 1st Avenue and 2nd Street. Up to four finalists will be selected for interviews and paid a $1,500 stipend. Artists working in the United States and who have experience designing projects with a similar budget and scope are encouraged to apply.

Applications are due by January 31,2020.

Site Description

In 2018, due to concrete deterioration found during ongoing inspection work on the Drinkwater Bridge, the underpass, as well as access over the top of the overpass, was closed. Construction work began in December 2018. The contractor has completed construction of the new abutment wall on the west side of the bridge and the new center-supporting wall in the median.

The underpass is part of the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall and is adjacent to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Civic Center Library, and City Hall. The featured art could include a variety of media, including light-based art that uses information/data from those who pass through. The Drinkwater underpass will function almost like a marquee for the City of Scottsdale.

The bridge is named for Mayor Herb Drinkwater, also known as “Mr. Scottsdale,” who served the citizens of Scottsdale for 24 years: eight as a city councilman (1970–1978) and sixteen as mayor (1980–1996). One of Arizona’s most popular politicians, he transformed Scottsdale into an economic powerhouse. In 1993, Scottsdale was named “America’s Most Livable City” by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which validated Mayor Drinkwater’s vision that small town values could still exist and pull citizens together in a big city atmosphere.

Mayor Drinkwater died in 1998. His legacy includes Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Tournament Players Club, and the All-Arabian Horse Show. Under his leadership, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve was established.

Scope and Project Description

The scope for the public art project focuses on the selected artist providing artwork that is responsive to the site, honors the legacy of Mayor Drinkwater, provides high visibility as a gateway feature to the Mall, and establishes a unique sense of place for the Drinkwater underpass and bridge.

Proposed art installation for Drinkwater underpass may:

  • Use walls of the tunnel for a textural art experience.
  • Illuminate underside of planters at the entrances/exits to the underpass.
  • Incorporate dynamic lighting, though it may not be rapidly changing.
  • Be placed on top of and in between tiered planters located on the north and south ends of the bridge.
  • Use lightweight metal or other material to bolt to north/south face of uppermost tiered planters in order to be visible from the roadway (subject to weight restrictions).

Proposed art installations for Drinkwater underpass shall not:

  • Encourage pedestrians to enter non-pedestrian areas.
  • Be such that it may be perceived to conflict with traffic control measures, nor may it be perceived to be directing traffic (limit use of standard traffic control colors).
  • Be distracting to drivers.
  • Interfere with tunnel lighting.

During bridge construction, the City instructed the contractor to create connection points and conduits for electrical and data lines that could potentially be used as part of a light-based, data-driven public artwork. The selected artist will be given knowledge of these key points as they work on their design.

The budget for the project is inclusive of all costs associated with the planning, design, fabrication, installation, and completion phases of this project, including the artist selection process costs. The budget includes all costs for travel for site visits, community meetings, and meetings between the artist and affected stakeholders. The budget also includes all taxes and insurance.

Selection Process

An artist-selection panel will be convened to evaluate all submissions and select three to four artist finalists for interviews. Pending interviews, one artist and an alternate will be selected for the project. Finalists will receive a $1,500 stipend to cover travel and related expenses associated with the interview. A proposal is not required from finalists selected for interviews.

Selection criteria include the applicant’s professional qualifications, proven ability to complete projects of a similar scope, artistic merit as evidenced by the submitted materials, and demonstrated ability to work with government agencies and stakeholders in the creation of site enhancements for a public art project.  

The project artist(s) will be recommended by the selection panel for approval by the Scottsdale Public Art Advisory Board, based on the review of images and other application materials. The Advisory Board approves art concepts and the project scope and budget, thereby allowing the artist creative license within the established project plan. Contract and project plan are to be negotiated with Scottsdale Public Art. The Advisory Board reserves the right to reject any and all applications.

Scottsdale Public Art

In 1985, Scottsdale adopted a 1 percent for art ordinance and established Scottsdale Public Art with the goal to enhance the quality of life afforded area residents and visitors. Projects underway include work by Phillip K Smith III (The Art Office), Marc Fornes and THEVERYMANY Studio, and Jody Pinto.

Scottsdale Public Art seeks to incorporate the highest quality art in Scottsdale’s public places in order to enhance the City’s cultural and artistic identity and presence. Public art in Scottsdale is meant to combine a spirited perspective of traditional and new iconographies as well as celebrate and invigorate the vitality of public life.

Scottsdale Public Art advocates, promotes, and enables the integration of the work and ideas of artists into many facets of planning, design, and building in the community. Public art effectively invites community participation at all phases, from artist selection to dedication. During the design process, an average of 250 people may review each public art project. Artists compete for a commission at a specific location; a project panel comprised of city residents and art and design professionals chooses the artist; and the artist’s design is then presented at public meetings prior to approval and fabrication. In many cases, the artist becomes an integral member of the project design team.

Scottsdale Public Art is managed by the Scottsdale Cultural Council, a private, nonprofit management organization that administers the arts and cultural affairs of the City of Scottsdale, Arizona, and also manages Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale is the major resort center of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Although not all of the local major resorts are located in the City, Scottsdale contains the core of specialty shopping, art galleries, and recreational facilities and many of the cultural and sporting events that attract and sustain the local tourism industry. Because of the lack of services in most areas adjacent to the City, Scottsdale’s retail centers, parks, employment centers, and libraries are heavily used by residents outside of the City. The high quality of the visual environment and character areas in the City is an important component of maintaining the tourism industry and civic framework.


January 31, 2020

February/March 2020          

March/April 2020

April 2020

Summer 2020                        

Fall/Winter 2020                   

Spring 2021                           

Summer, 2021                       

Deadline for response to RFQ (Midnight MST)

Finalist notifications

Finalist interviews

Artist selection and contract development

Design review and approval



Project complete


All artists residing in the United States are eligible to apply.

Application Delivery

Application are being accepted via the CallForEntry.org website.

Specific proposals are not requested at this stage in the process.

All materials submitted become the property of Scottsdale Public Art.

Submission Requirements

  • Digital Images: 5 digital images of previously completed artwork.
  • Resume or CV: Current professional resume or curriculum vitae (CV), including artist address, email, and phone number. Teams must submit one resume/CV per team member.
  • References: 2 professional references for you.
  • Statement(s) of Intent: Address how the applicant’s previous experience and current artistic direction will result in a successful public art project.


All questions regarding this request for qualifications are to be directed to Tanya Galin, public art coordinator, Scottsdale Public Art, at [email protected]. Please include artist name and contact info in all correspondence.

Download PDF with complete listing of opportunities and application details.