Siah Armajani created The Glass Bridge for Nashville specifically for Cheekwood. The work stands as a glistening, beautiful sculptural object the viewer can both enter and look at from multiple vantage points on The Carell Trail. It is also a utilitarian pedestrian footbridge connecting two parts of the paved path and creating an active, interactive environment in which to experience to art. This dual function is a crucial aspect of Armajani’s Bridges, public art projects he first realized in the late 1960s. Though the structure made for The Carell Trail was one of the first to incorporate glass as its primary building material, Armajani used bridges throughout his career as a conceptual framework to physically express and explore ideas of passage, shelter, connectedness, and the bringing together of disparate points.
Armajani was born in Tehran and moved to the United States in 1960 to study philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Based in Minneapolis for most of his career, he developed a sophisticated, intellectual artistic practice that examined boundaries between art, architecture, and public space. Armajani created large-scale, interactive commissions that took the form not only of bridges, but also reading rooms, gardens, pavilions, and shelters. These public spaces are intended to be open, useful, and neighborly sites, created to both foster social exchanges and solitary meditation. As Armajani stated, “Public sculpture should not intimidate, assault or control the public. It should enhance a given place.”