Scottsdale's SkySong: The Circus is in Town

We snuck onto the SkySong construction project today to check out those gigantic tee-pees they're putting up. Probably should have worn a hardhat. We waved at some workers before taking these shots -- they didn't seem to mind.

Though somewhat garish, like an Indian casino suspended by steel cables, the tent-and-high-wire act does seem to improve the aesthetic quality of the project's ho-hum office buildings. When Arizona State University first sold Scottsdale on the idea to provide a gateway of sorts to the city at McDowell and Scottsdale roads, the artists' renderings left something to be desired. (Then again, anything is better than the Steve Ellman's fenced wasteland that sat idle for years after the Los Arcos Mall got bulldozed).

The sheer height and scale of the arty contraption is impressive, and it will clearly do its job of providing shade. An article in the Arizona Republic last month says the structure will be 125 feet tall when completed -- it looked to us like at least one of those poles is that tall. The article also says the beige-brown color of the shade fabric will fade to white in the sun, but we have to wonder -- how will it look after a dust storm? Probably beige again.

SkySong still has its critics -- the office and residential project is costing millions in taxpayer funds.

That's some pricey eye-candy.

If you look squint, you can see a bunch of workers standing in that catwalk-type structure next to the sail.

Auntie Em, it's a twister! This big funnel looks like it would be to stand under during a monsoon shower, doesn't it?



Plenty of work left to do.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.