Busted Plug Plaza
Date created: 2001
"Busted Plug Plaza" is among Sky's most widely-recognized and impressive works. Four stories in height and weighing 675,000 pounds, it is located on Taylor St., between Marion and Bull Sts., in the same parking lot (AgFirst Farm Credit Bank) as Sky's acclaimed "Tunnelvision."
Sky proposed the sculpture to the city of Columbia in 1999, and spent the next year designing and directing the project. After architectural drafting, review approval and permitting, off-site component fabrication and on-site construction took 14 months to complete. For the entire duration of the preparation and assembly process, the project was veiled under an enormous grey tarp, leaving the residents of downtown Columbia tantalized with wonder, curiosity and perhaps even fear.
Over 75 people contributed their talents to the realization of this project. Sky's design-build team consisted of architect Robert J. Probst, structural engineer Jimmy Chao (Chao and Associates), and general contractor Jimmy Copeland (J.F. Copeland Construction Inc.).
"Busted Plug Plaza" was initially conceived by Sky circa 1980 as "Downtown Fountain," a pyramidal cement structure adorned with various colorful fire plugs indigenous to Main St. which were soon to be scrapped by the city. Fittingly, the sculpture would have been located at the intersection of Washington St. and Main St., where a fountain was tentatively scheduled to replace a circular island. Unfortunately, this project never made it past the planning phase, and the island was simply replaced with inlaid brick.
In 1998, Sky began drawing up designs for a similar project, which he called "Rainbow Dome." Instead of a pyramidal structure, the sculpture would have been comprised of several concentric concrete platforms, with the fire plugs arranged symmetrically about the ledges, spouting water that would flow into a circular trench. Eventually, this idea evolved into the much larger construction that became "Busted Plug Plaza." However, Sky originally hoped to see it complete by 2000, calling the gargantuan fire hydrant "Y2K."
Strangely enough, two other cities in North America claim to house the "world's largest fire hydrant," however, "Busted Plug Plaza" is taller than both structures by over 10 feet and heavier by many thousands of pounds. It entered the design phase much sooner than the projects in Manitoba and Beaumont, and includes a fountain that pumps an enormous volume of water 24 hours / day. In fact, Sky's sculpture was conceived to be so gigantic that it appears to have torn a telephone line in the process of being 'busted!'
For reasons of public safety, "Busted Plug Plaza" was designed such that it could withstand a direct hit from a tornado.