Houghton Road “Cocoon” overrun by nature

cocoonLess than a year ago, representatives with the RTA, the City of Tucson and Pima County participated in ribbon cutting and the basic installation of the public art piece known as The Cocoon. The $200,000 plus weave of metal pipes is now surrounded by weeds and warning signs.

The tunnel-like structure sits next to the paved pedestrian path alongside the newly widened Houghton Road. The Houghton Road Corridor Improvement Project includes a six-lane stretch of road with rubberized asphalt, and landscaped medians being taken over by weeds.

The public art user-unfriendly project provides no real shelter from the sun or other elements and as the AZDI reported last summer, it in fact acts as an oven.

To add to the user-unfriendliness, the initial “artistically” placed friendly white placards that read “Not Designed For Climbing,” have been replaced with government issued signs that read: “Please Keep Off – Do Not Climb.”

While participating artists said that the sculpture was inspired by nature and wildlife habitats, it is now rendered nearly impenetrable with nature blocking the south end entrance.

As with many bond funded projects in Pima County, the capital is laid out for a project, and money for maintenance is hard to come by.

Public art planning artists Nina Borgia-Aberle, Stephen Grede, and Blessing Hancock had worked with the design team and the community on the Public Art Master Planning Process since November of 2009. During that time, they collaborated with the community, attended Community Design Review Committee (CDRC) meetings, and Houghton Road project open house events, as well as neighborhood association meetings and community events.

Now, it appears that the best laid plans fell short.

Related article:

Four degrees of separation in South Houghton “Cocoon”

Houghton Road Corridor cocoon lacks comfort, shelter


  1. Just another example of the waste involved in building roads. The 1% of funds for the project go to “road art” that means absolutely nothing to anyone other than the artists. This is a prime example. Just build the freeeking roads, and don’t worry about the “art” that should represent the area or part of the road. Perhaps you can pay to fill a couple or more potholes with the money for arts. I am sure that would be appreciated more than the “art”. By the way, can someone tell me why in the desert environment in which we live and all the enviros bitch about the water use why the hell we have irrigation systems in the medians and other areas of the roadway to water the cactus, trees and other assorted plants that need water to survive? Just put rock in the medians and be done with it. Then there is no maintenance and no need to worry about trimming the trees or watering the plants and replacing them. Just build the roads, please……

  2. To be expected. They put in wonderful (and expensive) landscaped medians along Evergreen and Poinciana near me a few years ago – and actually maintained them for a few months. Then, suddenly, they stopped. (I suspect it was after the builder of a half-dozen new houses, more expensive than the typical house in this area, finally unloaded the last of them.)

    Now, the Neighborhood Association (rarely) gets a bunch of kids out to pick up the trash. Except for one homeowner that goes out several times a year to hit the stretch in front of his house with Roundup, though, it is thoroughly overgrown.

    We won’t even talk about the washes that they also don’t bother to doze off – after getting a normal batch of winter rains, if we have a normal monsoon season, there’s going to be floods…

  3. Had a minute to think about this…seriously, this is the worst piece of “art” crap I have ever seen. To think this was okay’ed by someone blows my mind. I thought the red whatever it is piece of “art” downtown was confusing, well, this cocoon beats that for sheer wonderment. As to where it is is even more confusing.

    Why not a big lizard, tortoise, or something people could recognize. I mean if we have to pay for this type of thing I’d like to at least know what it is.

    Do you think it is possible we will ever have people in Pima County Government who have common sense?

  4. Common Sense died in Pima County about the time the chuckster came back to the county after a brief adventure as a developer as a planner. He then held the funeral when he became the Administrator in Chief.

    • Well, in fairness – the disease was already there, it just got worse.

      You can hardly notice them now, but I remember when the upside down dead trees, painted bright red, were installed in Reid Park, right around 30 years ago.

  5. There was achannel 9 I think it was article on something simular out on the east side. Couple hundred thousand to put some ceramic tiles on a bridge. Now they are falling off and no one has ‘responsibilty’ to keep these things up! Remember when they built the snake bridge and the other useless one over park ave? They said they were forced to by the government to waste the dollars that no one wanted to on these things. Guess they suck the tit of the public and then run away when its dry. As to the original comment they ‘want’ the local people to fund the repairs!

  6. $200,000.00 and the metal thieves won’t even take it… perhaps there is honor among thief’s

  7. Tell Meth Heads that it’s really silver-painted copper and it will be gone by tomorrow morning!

  8. That is NOT art. It looks like a bunch of JUNK pipe welded together and NOT worth what it cost the taxpayers. We need a constitutional amendment to stop wasting monies on many of these so called art forms.

  9. What a joke. We are told that we have to spend money on so called art and we cant even budget any funds to take care of this crap. So if we cant take care of it we don’t need any so called art. This mess should be removed and hauled off to Regina Romeros front yard. She will know what to do with it.

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