Water Table to be Focal Point of New Arts Plaza

Maya Lin, the artist and architect who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was commissioned in 2000 to redesign the Claire Trevor School of the Arts Plaza.
‘Imagine entering a garden of perception where all the senses are tapped, from sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing,’ Lin said of the plaza at the groundbreaking event last November.
Helping Lin make this imagined plaza a reality is Pamela Burton, a Santa Monica-based landscape architect who has completed various projects at the University of Redlands and California State University, Northridge, as well as other large-scale residential projects.
The privately funded project is estimated to cost $3.6 million. Construction began on Feb. 25 and is said to be on schedule despite a rainy season. The Arts Plaza is expected to be completed before next fall.
UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone described the transformed Arts Plaza as ‘a tribute to all the traditional art forms. At the same time, it unites technology at the Beall Center and opens the door for new creative art forms that stimulate and stretch the imagination.’
The new Arts Plaza will have native flowers, orange trees and other fragrant landscaping elements, adding color to the 30,000-square-foot area. A focal point of the area will be the ‘water table,’ a signature of Lin, who explained the sculpture as being ‘made up of the simple act that an artist makes, a sketch upon a piece of paper.’
Near the Claire Trevor Theatre, the 18-by-8-foot water table will feature a delicate image carved into its surface, with a small stream of water coming from the carving and gliding over the sculpture’s surface.
According to the UCI Arts Quarterly newsletter, the redesigned plaza will feature Internet-linked plasma video screens which will display images from around the world. Other unique characteristics of the plaza include a 200-seat outdoor amphitheater, special-effects lighting along pathways and benches playing music, poetry and other sounds.
‘During the day, a carefully painted rectangle appears to float on the building’s wall,’ Lin said. ‘At night this beaded glass-imbedded paint is lit, creating a glowing blank movie screen directly reminiscent of a Sugimoto photograph and, yet, ready to show a projected movie.’
Lisa Roetzel, the School of the Arts director of development, described the amphitheater as ‘wonderful, like a theater that never closes.’
Students were excited about the new development.
‘I’m extremely excited to see the finished product next fall,’ said Madeline Mullens, a first-year humanities major. ‘The outdoor amphitheater will be a great addition, allowing for more student participation, performance and enthusiasm for the arts program at UCI. I can’t wait to sit watching a performance with a warm afternoon breeze wafting in.’
Nohema Fernandez, dean of the School of the Arts, anticipated that the new plaza will draw attention from outside of the UCI community.
‘Maya’s design blends art and technology to offer an outside learning and gathering place for students, faculty and the community,’ Fernandez said. ‘We anticipate that it will be a distinctive and important cultural and educational destination for the diverse communities of Southern California.’
The new Arts Plaza is not the first change that the Claire Trevor School of the Arts has seen in recent years, as Wendy Day-Brown, director of marketing for the School of the Arts, explained.
‘The renovation of the Arts Plaza is the final phase of the 1998-2001 capital campaign that renovated Winifred Smith Hall, converted the Village Theatre into the Claire Trevor Theatre, established the Beall Center for Art and Technology and created the Cyber A Caf