New season, new color for Main Street’s hazelnut sculptures

Downtown Tigard's Corylus Sculpture
Downtown Tigard's Corylus Sculpture

The weather is changing and with the leaves turning colors the well-known hazelnut bud sculptures on Main Street have transformed from pink to green. These two sculptures rise to a grand height of 17.5 feet. They were originally installed in Sept. 2015 celebrating the upcoming changes in downtown Tigard.

The matching steel sculptures reference the extensive hazelnut orchards which were one of the main sources of revenue and use of land in the Willamette Valley. Brian Borrello’s design intentionally mimic the shape and color of hazelnut buds, and the pink tone matches the Japanese Magnolia trees’ blooms surrounding the sculpture. Borrello named the sculptures “Corylus” which is Latin for hazelnut tree. His intent for the sculptures was to add a sense of liveliness to Main Street and many agree it has brought attention to downtown.

At night, the sculpture interior is illuminated by color changing lights
At night, the sculpture interior is illuminated by color changing lights

In a Jan. 2014 Tigard City Council meeting, former City Center Advisory Commission Chair, Elise Shearer, named the art the “transformation structure” because Tigard was in the process of transforming from a sleepy little farm town into a vibrant suburban city.

Before drafting his designs, Borrello offered a session to hear what the community wanted to see in the art.

“When I do these municipal works, I work with the general citizens, arts committee, arts professionals, city council, parks department, landscape architects, and imaginary public (people I don’t know about but anticipating what they would experience as a drive-by experience),” Borrello says.

The community meeting brought ideas of vibrancy, community, gathering, and nature when dreaming up how to best represent Tigard. Borrello’s work, which can be seen in Tigard, Oregon City and Portland incorporates the thoughts of the local community so they feel a sense of ownership in the process and the end result.

“Trying to activate community so people have a connection not just with the sculptures as something to look at and smile about but a connection that embodies something about them…history, identity, character or spirit,” Borrello explains.

Tigard City Council turned down the first idea of hazelnut seed sculptures and accepted the second rendition of a second six-petal design. Tigard’s public art subcommittee of Town Center Advisory Commission (TCAC) thought this art was the ideal way to display the new improvements coming to Tigard. 

Over the past four years the paint began to fade. The change in paint color from pink to green with white interior was requested by several community members and City Council. According to Sean Farrelly, Redevelopment Project Manager for the City of Tigard, the process to select a new color followed the same process as the original design approval. Borrello presented four options, and the TCAC along with representatives from Tigard Downtown Alliance selected the green and white option.

“The two-tone scheme would give the sculpture added depth, particularly the light interior which would pick up the changing lights that shine on the piece at night. This color had a closer connection to nature and the hazelnut blossom. The color would still be eye-catching from Highway 99W,” Farrelly says.

Borrello finished repainting the sculptures mid-October and enjoys the new look. “I thought it was ready for a paint job anyhow. I [am] really happy about it. Who knows, maybe we’ll do some holographic thing in 10 years!”