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Calistoga, CA

Status: Completed 2005

Artist: James Turrell
Architect: Jim Jennings Architecture
Engineer: Endres Ware (Endrestudio)
Landscape Architect: Tom Leader Studio

Known for his light-and-space-based art, James Turrell’s vision for this Napa Valley residential poolside dining and lounge space was to float a minimalist plane, designed with a center cutout that opens to the sky, 14 feet in the air using nearly invisible support. Looking up through the square opening alters viewers’ perception of light and space, making them acutely aware of hyper-real clouds and a constantly changing sky. To achieve the artist’s vision, Endres Ware collaborated with Turrell and architect Jim Jennings to create a 40 foot by 50 foot plane with an 8x8 square oculus at its center. The razor-thin edges were detailed to a 1/8 inch thickness for both the oculus and exterior edges, enhancing the ethereal lightness of the plane. Four thin steel support columns, two with a 2.5 inch diameter, two with a 5 inch diameter, hold the plane in the air and restrain its seismic forces. Between the four columns span rectangular hollow sections, allowing tapered cantilevered trusses to minimize its edges. The columns were spaced to minimize deflection in both its cantilever and interior span. Adjacent to the Skyplane’s viewing space is an infinity pool with black walls and bottom. In the pool, a second Turrell work, a Skyspace, floats, allowing an alternative viewing of the framed sky, and is accessible by swimming underneath the walls and popping up into an enclosed reflective world of light and space.