Arlington Hills Community Center

A New Public Art Project in the City of St. Paul

Works Progress was recently selected to create permanent public artwork for the new Arlington Hills Community Center, opening in May 2014 on Saint Paul’s East Side. This highly anticipated facility will feature a public library, a recreation and fitness center, community meeting rooms and a digital learning lab for teens. We see this unique “blended service” model as inspiration for a public art project that will encourage visitors to reimagine the possibilities for their own inhabitation and creative use of this new public space. The public art selection committee that chose Works Progress Studio included representatives from Saint Paul Public Libraries, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, the Payne Phalen District Five Planning Council and community residents.

We’re currently in the design phase of this project, meeting with East Side residents, organizations, business owners, community leaders and City staff. Over time we’re getting to know the community through the stories of people who live, work and play there. Throughout this engagement process we’re listening for common themes, community-generated ideas and creative energy, as well as individual and collective civic aspirations. Our goal is to imagine and create a project with the community that opens space inside and around this new public building for residents to participate in shaping the civic life of their neighborhood through public art, engagement and design.

The public art project is financed through the City of Saint Paul’s Public Art Ordinance, which establishes that City capital projects involve artists from the earliest stages of planning and throughout project design and implementation. The ordinance provides for one percent of eligible project costs to be used for public art.