David Boekelheide, MFA Applied Craft and Design, designed and produced the bike memorial to PNCA student Tracey Sparling.
Just before students returned for the Spring 2013 semester, the finishing touches were placed on the Pedal Garden. It marks the completion of a three-year, student-led project to build a new bicycle shelter for the College. The new student Pedal Garden both celebrates PNCA’s bicycling community and serves as a memorial for Tracey Sparling, a PNCA student who in 2007 died in a biking accident. Sparling’s death was one of two such bike commuter tragedies in the PNCA community during October of 2007, with alumni Brett Jarolimek’s death following on October 22.
The new bike corral at Pacific Northwest College of Art’s main campus building was designed and fabricated by alumnus David Boekelheide, who received his MFA in Applied Craft and Design (a joint program of PNCA and Oregon College of Art and Craft) in 2011. With another AC+D student, Evan Holt, MFA ’11, Boekelheide conceived of the organic structure as well as shepherded the project through an extensive approval process. PNCA Dean of Student Services Michael Hall spearheaded the project on the College’s side. Holt now owns and operates his own woodworking business, Holt Woodworks.
The Pedal Garden features wall-mounted racks covered by partial roof of translucent green leaves. The design uses “green” iconography to reinforce the environmental benefits of cycling and demonstrates PNCA’s commitment to design in support of a sustainable future. The College already has one of the city’s largest bike parking facilities. The Pedal Garden transforms a simple group of bike staples into an iconic memorial.
For Boekelheide, the Garden first began as a graduate school project. He initially approached the design and production of the on-campus bicycle shelter and public art project as an exercise in professional practice with the added bonus that would benefit the PNCA cycling community. He also presented his designs for the Pedal Garden as part of his senior practicum. Three years later, after an extensive permit and approval process, Boekelheide finally has the green light to install.
“It’s been an incredible learning experience,” Boekelheide says. It was his first experience with a project of this scale involving the input and approval of so many agencies and associations. “It has been as much an exercise in public policy and the public art process as a design-build project.”
The process has included meetings with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Pearl District Neighborhood Association, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council, as well as close work with project manager and eco-fabricator Eric Kaster at Eleek, Inc.
ELEEK, Inc., an award-winning Portland design and fabrication shop, has provided shop space for Boekelheide to fabricate the racks. ELEEK’s owner, Eric Kaster, has been involved in project management for most of the design and permitting aspects of the venture. PNCA Board of Governors member and PNCA alumnus Jean-Pierre Veillet ’97 has also been an important contributor to the project through his personal involvement and that of his staff at his company SiteWorks Design. Veillet mentored Boekelheide during his graduate program.
With the Pedal Garden, Boekelheide transforms PNCA’s bike corral on the west side of the main campus building into an iconic bike-centric sculpture garden that supports and strengthens Portland’s cycling community.