Since early October, 2017, the Sego Lily has been growing and spreading across the western slope of Sugar House Park, with its petals rising slightly above the crest of 1300 E. The story of the Lily has many layers—functional, artistic, historical, and educational.
The first stages of construction clearly identified the Lily as a flood-control structure with a heavily-engineered concrete foundation and drainage features. But as weeks went by, the finish work on the spillway took on another aspect. The north wall, built to deflect flood water from the park’s Parley’s Creek detention pond, was transformed. It emerged as a curving flower petal, arching gracefully down to a plaza with rocky outcrops that formed benches and raised beds for shrubs and flowers.
The south wall became another petal of the Sego Lily, with sculptural seating and narrow interconnected paths that descended from the sidewalk on 1300 E. The rock mounds were made to look like the geological forms in Echo Canyon, artfully carved and finished with sand and pebbles. That conglomerate is similar to the puddingstone found in the canyon and other parts of the Wasatch Mountains.
The third petal of the Lily is distinctively different, formed from the reinforced grassy berm that rings Sugar House Park. Next spring, seven shotcrete “veins” will separate rows of vegetation, recalling food crops that were planted in the Salt Lake valley by 19th-century pioneers.
The tunnel under 1300 E. is a popular bicycle and pedestrian crossing along Parley’s Trail. The south wall of the tunnel has been textured to appear like a slip fault in an exposed coal seam, with the rock strata squeezed and distorted. The geological coal seam added another chapter to the pioneer narrative of the Draw at Sugar House.
Construction of the Sego Lily will be finished in December, and the Draw will re-open at that time. The Lily’s green stem and leaf (aka water conduit/ bike-ped trail to the tunnel) will be finished in the spring, when the native shrubs and trees are installed.