Does a city with no residents need public art? Absolutely, according to University of New Mexico (UNM) adjunct professor Sherri Brueggemann, who first heard about the Center for Innovation, Testing, and Evaluation (CITE) plan last year. The project, which is equal parts science fiction and Sim City with a dash of Disney World, involves the construction from scratch of a full-scale, generic US city in the New Mexico desert that will be used by academics, developers, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and others to test new products and technologies, from smart grid power systems to unmanned trucks. The $1-billion, 26-square-mile urban laboratory, which is being developed by Pegasus Global Holdings and referred to as the “City Lab” in project descriptions, will have a mall, airport, city hall, churches, power plant, highway, suburbs, townhouses, and downtown office buildings, but no inhabitants. The only people in its streets will be CITE’s estimated 350 staff and the researchers making use of its facilities. Curious to know what kind of public art such a city should have, Brueggemann — who also manages Albuquerque’s public art program — presented the problem to students in her art management class.
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