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Advanced Water Treatment Plant


The Advanced Water Treatment Plant project was instigated by the City of San Diego Metropolitan Waste Water Department to address the City's need for a sustainable supply of drinking water. The plant, incorporating a public education tour route, would re-purify irrigation quality water making it fit for augmenting a raw drinking water supply. Administered by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, San Diego's public art policy at the time promoted the integration of artists with a negotiable brief at the inception of capital projects.

Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., (MPI), an environmental engineering consulting firm, won the contract with a Design Team of engineers, architect, landscape architect and artist. Experienced artist Robert Millar took a leading role in developing a design concept and architectural visualisation which would reflect the technology used in the plant. His approach is illuminated in his selected artist's notes.

The project management of such a complex project was clearly challenging. Feedback from project participants reveals a thought-provoking, frustrating, but ultimately rewarding project. The Technical Memorandum produced for the 30% design stage by the Art Team describes a rich design with layered meaning and references. Their design won a Progressive Architecture Citation for Visionary Design. In the text of a presentation to fellow engineers, MPI's Project Director reveals his respect and enthusiasm for artist involvement in engineering projects.