From the emblematic statue of The Guardian that sits atop the Oklahoma State Capitol to the dramatic red sculpture that welcomes visitors to Leadership Square, public art appeals to curiosity seekers and art lovers alike. These unique images dot the landscape throughout central Oklahoma and prompt visitors and passers-by to linger a few moments and admire these artistic creations. Think of the “Sphinx,” a 1995 bronze by Fernando Botero that graces the grounds of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Or the sculpture of a symphony orchestra conductor with baton in hand that greets visitors to the Civic Center Music Hall. Central Oklahoma’s newest sculpture is Skydance Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that emerges into view when drivers on Interstate 40 approach downtown Oklahoma City. Inspired by the scissor-tailed flycatcher, the graceful sculpture weighs 105 tons and rises 192 feet above I-40. “The Oklahoma City Skydance Bridge celebrates not only the history of Oklahoma’s landscape and people, but proves the brilliance and promise of who we are becoming as a city and community,” project architect Hans Butzer said during the bridge’s construction phase. “The scissor-tailed flycatcher seems to embody the most beautiful ideas that relate to engineering, the Oklahoma wind and our love for the Oklahoma landscape and wildlife.” The massive steel wing structure was the result of a city-sponsored competition that drew entries from 16 firms. The winning submission was by Architect MKEC Engineering and the Butzer Design Partnership. Butzer also designed the Oklahoma City National Memorial. “The skyline of our emerging city continues to improve and become more memorable,” said Shannon L. Rich, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Heritage Association and Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum. “The Skydance Bridge is not only unique and breathtaking, but its modern representation of the scissor-tailed flycatcher evokes a renewed sense of pride in our state’s heritage.” The Skydance Bridge, with its stainless steel sculpture of Oklahoma’s state bird, shimmers in the sunlight and casts intricate shadows on the highway below. At night, the sculpture is lit from below, a beacon for motorists entering or leaving downtown. “The Skydance Bridge is excellent,” said Glen Gentele, president and CEO of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. “It is architecture and sculpture, a monument that speaks to the innovation and growth of Oklahoma City; it brings excellence in design and functionality directly to the lives of people in the community and to those passing through it on the highway. Simply put, it’s very cool.” Butzer said the idea to incorporate the scissor-tailed flycatcher into the design stemmed from a letter by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett that was included in the packet of information about the competition. The letter encouraged contestants to use the bridge to convey the distinct qualities of Oklahoma’s people and landscape. Kienzle said the panel judged the finalists’ models on the level of creativity and ingenuity, use of materials and compatibility to surrounding neighborhood and historical buildings. Kienzle said the panel also considered whether or not the design could be built within its $5 million budget. Butzer’s design was the only one of the top four that was able to be constructed within the $5 million budget and was given the highest score, Kienzle said. The bridge spans the new Interstate 40 near Robinson Avenue, connecting pedestrians to the Oklahoma River. The bridge is at the heart of the MAPS 3 downtown park, which is expected to begin construction in 2013.