Buckeye Public Art – Round 2

Buckeye Public Art – Round 2

Frequently, Serbin Studio gets pulled away from the design of commercial building to design Public art.  Whether designing a building or a sculpture, a similar process is involved.   Conceptual design of various renditions are created for the Buckeye Main Street Coalition (entity in charge of creating the art), once a direction is selected, construction documentation is developed.  The plans created are submitted to the city for permitting.

The art is a continuation of the sculptures found in Downtown Buckeye previously designed, fabricated and installed near Buckeye City Hall.  That originally involved 4 sculptures that included a tractor, a cowboy roper, a cowgirl barrel racer and a cotton boll.  www.serbinstudio.com/public-works/

Art Description

This projects consist of sculptures fabricated from sheets of steel.  The prior sculptures were slightly larger and required their own footings.  This time, our design intent was to design sculptures that would not require the expense of a large concrete footing.  Two of the sculptures are  8′ tall so the effect known as Cantilever – “rigid structural element, such as a beam or a plate, anchored at one endcreated a requirement for the sculptures to be stiff enough to allow for bending forces created from the occasional monsoon wind gust.  This pushed the steel thickness to 3/4″.

A 4′ X 8′ sheet of steel at 3/4″ thick is approx. 1K LBS. This created another fabrication challenge.  Fabrication, maneuvering them around the shop and shop fabrication or cutting of the steel.  Once the sculptures were cut, powder coating would wrap the steel in the desired color.

The location of the sculptures are at 4th street and Monroe in Downtown Historic Buckeye.  If you know the history of Buckeye, this intersection was the main cross streets of a Town that was the thoroughfare from downtown Phoenix to San Diego up to the early 1970’s.  Now I-10 bypasses this quite town, but recently, the town is in its early stages of revival.

Public Art - Downtown Buckeye in the 1930's

Downtown Buckeye in the 1930’s.  It was a busy time back then.

The sculptures are located at the 4 corners of Monroe and 4th street.  They reference the local fauna and flora of Arizona.

The Saguaro and ocotillo are going to be fabricated by the Arizona Corrections.  The Barrel and Prickly cactus will be fabricated by the Buckeye High School Metal shop.

Art Presentation Graphics

Public Art - Saguaro located at Northeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Saguaro located at Northeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - ocotillo located at NorthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street

ocotillo located at NorthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - Prickly Pear located at SouthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Prickly Pear located at SouthWest corner of Monroe and 4th Street


Public Art - Barrel Cactus located at Southeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Barrel Cactus located at Southeast corner of Monroe and 4th Street

Looking forward to more Public Art in downtown Buckeye.

Liquor Corral, Buckeye, Arizona

Liquor Corral, Buckeye, Arizona

The Liquor Corral, a business in Historic Downtown Buckeye, is revitalizing the façade to bring new life to a building which contains a thriving business, yet a tired exterior appearance.

2015_011_Liquor corral_SE_proposed   2015_011_Liquor corral_SE_existing

The original building is your typical standard metal structure you may see on surrounding properties throughout Buckeye.  Years ago, a covered wood porch entryway was built on the front north facade to embellish the standard building.

Liquor corral proposed sw_serbin   Liquor corral exist sw_serbin

The new improvements include a new entry doorway and windows without the present security bars to open the building and make it more welcoming/inviting.  Sliding barn doors with a cut metal pattern were added for security.  It allows it to be very transparent during the day with added security at night when closed.

Liquor Corral - store open     Liquor Corral - store closed

View of store open                                                                      View of store closed

New exterior raw steel material was added to the north building facade along Monroe Avenue with a design elegance reflecting the motive of western wear.  The pattern of cowboy boot design was used as the inspiration for the fenestration.  Custom steel panels were designed and cut using a sophisticated computer aided machine.  

project material and inspiration

project material and inspiration

The panels have a natural rust patina finish.  This finish is seen throughout the desert southwest in many forms.  Architecturally, it brings a warmth and a level of sophistication to the building.

Project to be completed in summer of 2016.

First Responders Memorial Plaza

First Responders Memorial Plaza

First Responders Memorial Plaza Concept to Reality

First Responders Memorial Plaza Concept to Reality

Shortly after June 2013, we received a call from the homeowner’s association at Riata West.  They had just witnessed a tragedy that occurred in Yarnell where 19Granite Mountain Hot Shots died while fighting a forest fire.   About a year later,Serbin Studio Inc. began working on the design for the monument which essentially was what we call a pocket park, a small parcel of land within Riata West in Buckeye, Az.

First Responder Memorial Plaza

First Responder Memorial Plaza

The property area is about 20′ to 15′ wide (tapered site) and 100′ long.  However by the time we removed driveway access areas, building setbacks, utility corridors, and other constraints, we were left with an area of approximately 6′ to 3′ wide (tapered) and 40′ long.  Not much to work with when you want the plaza to consist of a monument, shade structure, a flag pole, some walking surface to gather and permanent stone seating.  We also took a budget conscious approach to design.

First Responder Water Jet Steel shade Canopy

First Responder Water Jet Steel shade Canopy

The structures are made with: local Prescott stone coming from the Dunbar Stone (symbolic to Yarnell area), the main structure of pine wood (reflecting to the forest), a metal shade canopy element that has cut outs referencing diamond plate used on fire trucks and engraved black marble for the monument graphics.  Local Designers (Serbin Studio) and contractors (Rounds Construction) along with the support of our client Riata West Homeowner Association President (John Wayne Anderson) & City Property Manager (Jo Jordan), made the project a success.

First Responder Memorial Plaza Event - June 30, 2015

First Responder Memorial Plaza Event – June 30, 2015

To top it all off, the Grand Opening occurred on June 30, 2015, 2 years from the date of the fire and in attendance was the Mayor of Buckeye Jackie Meck, Secretary of State Michelle Reagan, our state Sheriff Joe Arpaio, several Buckeye Council members, the chief of Buckeye Police and several officers, the chief of the Buckeye Fire Department and many firemen, Members of the Buffalo Soldiers, Sea Cadets, VFW, Aurora the Bald Eagle, some local newspapers and news stations and many Buckeye and Arizona residents.

First Responders Memorial (Concept to Reality)

First Responders Memorial (Concept to Reality)

The monument was designed to honor First Responders (Fire, Police, National Guard, Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, EMS, Coast Guard etc.) who have lost their lives while protecting the citizens of Arizona and beyond but also to honor those currently protecting us around our great State of Arizona.



“A small effort made towards completion of a much larger task”

What about Bob? (1991) Comedy staring Bill Murray.  (Movie Clip)

Dave Ramsey’s – “Baby steps into financial freedom”.  I need some of this.

UrbanDictionary.com   “To make progress on something in small increments”


All around us, we see giants like Apple announcing $1.7 Billion in European projects or closer to home in Arizona $2 Billion over 10 years on a Data Center in Mesa. Tesla is building a battery plant costing upwards of $4 Billion.   I have to admit that I do salivate over working on a project for a client like Apple.  Apple, you can call me anytime you want.

The $2 Billion dollar data center is said to have ~150 employees once in operation with many people driving by without any clue really what goes on inside.  They are important facilities and do bring large amounts of revenue, but the impact on our immediate daily activities are directly minimal.  I suppose they do help our computers and phones search quicker, but just like turning on a light bulb, most of us don’t fully understand how the electricity comes from power station to that bulb.

I have worked on projects costing many millions of $ with large multi-billion dollar companies, so I know the drill.  The projects within these large facilities have a factor of speed and complexity which is very exciting.  Some are hush hush while others are news worthy.  But working on small projects has its complexities and gratification as well.  ITS LIKE PLANTING A SEED.

The large projects are like giants taking large steps, but what about those small projects which feel immaterial.

Those small projects are for some, BABY STEPS.  They can influence and have huge impacts upon its users and people who pass on by. 


In a smaller city, building projects may not take up an entire city block or involve Billions of dollars to complete, but those projects have a big impact because metaphorically, that ocean is much smaller and the fish appear only bigger.

Working on historical downtown revitalization projects feel like BABY STEPS.  For example, adding a dozen or so trees to a main street in Buckeye feels insignificant to many, but just wait until those trees mature and provide shade and beauty to downtown.  We have just planted a seed.

We have just planted another seed in Buckeye, the improvement to the facade at the Carniceria Taqueria or the landscape courtyard improvements at Millstone Cafe in Downtown Buckeye.  Yes these are small moves in the overall scheme of things, but think of the influences it will have on other business owners to update their properties after they see the success it has brought.  The seeds are only beginning to sprout.

Sometimes we all need to take BABY STEPS to get the momentum flowing in the right direction.

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Under Promise, Over Deliver

Under Promise, Over Deliver

Design and construction is a lengthy process not understood by many.  From my experience, the typical client wants to occupy a space faster than what is feasible.  I am a realist when it comes to project schedules and typically that may not be what the client wants to hear who has an un-realistic goal.  I prefer to  …

This industry has many moving parts, puzzles to be solved and involves multiple people; the target ‘time’ is sometimes hard to pin down.  Let me describe a typical process from 10,000 feet level.

Aerial of what City?

Aerial of what City?

No two clients, no two projects, no two buildings and no two sites are alike.
(I have had a repeat client within a repeat building with repeat city inspectors using a repeat contractor.  But this is not common).  Determination of time to complete a project varies.

Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical, Structural, Civil, Interiors etc.  Projects vary in building type and scale.  Project schedules can be dictated by teams availability.  Engineers vary in expertise.  The team must be appropriate for the project.  Gathering a team takes time.

Serbin Studio Team Skysong

Serbin Studio’s Current Office

No two properties are alike.  With an existing building, architects must understand what the existing conditions are and what information is available (original drawings?).  Every city is unique in building codes and inspectors.  When we submit drawings to the city for permitting, it is out of our control how much time is needed for a city permit review process.

Typically with smaller and less sophisticated clients, they inquire about fees.  A client is buying a service influenced by many factors, not buying a product.  Teams have to be gathered based upon scope.  Proposals require thought to ensure the architect has covered all services.  This process takes time and it is impossible to give a quote over the phone.

5) DESIGN TIME – Let us look at a typical process at 10,000 ft level.

Phase 1 – Schematic Design
Architects are like Nancy Drew (Lara) and Shirlock Home (Jeff) to uncover all the facts.  This would include time to gather information from the client, understand in-direct influences from the surrounding context, City and code constraints, the list goes on and on.  The information gathered transforms into a schematic design.  Good time for a cost estimate.

Phase 2 – Design Development
Once a schematic design is chosen, further development of the project includes definition of systems (structural, mechanical, electrical etc.) and building materials.

Phase 3 – Construction Documentation
Once the building systems and materials are chosen, the architect and engineers put together documents that are used for permitting and final pricing by the contractor.  An architect can assist in the recommendation of a contractor.  The process should take a few weeks to complete dependent on the size of the project.

Phase 4 – Construction
During construction, questions arise and the architect should be consulted.  We can be your eyes to uncover un-warranted changes made by the contractor.  It is common for people be stuck in their ways and build things how they have done in the past.  The architect and engineer are conscious about every line, note and drawing that is on that set.  A contractor should ask to deviate from the plan, not beg for mercy after the fact.

I make every attempt to follow through on promises and prefer to follow the moto ‘UNDER PROMISE, OVER DELIVER’.  However the most important element is communication.  No matter what field you are in, if a deadline is fast approaching and you feel that you may not be able to keep that promise, letting your client know is the best approach.