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When Daniel Lyman, a University of Utah architecture student, designed the interactive art installation "Sway'd" for an empty lot in downtown Salt Lake City, he couldn't be sure how it would turn out. After all, computer-design software only takes you so far.

But this week, standing amid 1,200 two-inch-thick, 10-foot-long flexible nylon poles that tremble to the touch, Lyman allowed it's more beautiful than he had hoped.

"When the wind blows through, the poles move with it, like grass," Lyman says. "On a sunny day the shadows and light play on them."

But on this stormy day, the gray poles, which resemble steel rebar but flex like fly rods, turned the open lot next to the Capitol Theatre into something surreal.

"Sway'd," which will be opened to the public Friday evening, is temporary. It will be replaced in 18 months by Ballet West's $32 million dance center. Until then, residents will be able to walk through the field of wands and feel like ants on a putting green.

Lyman won "Fluid Adagio," a joint Salt Lake City-Salt Lake County competition to make aesthetic use of the empty space where the Absolute restaurant once stood.

"We all knew the winning design would have to be great," says Greg Walker, chair of the American Institute of Architects' Young Architect Forum. "Daniel's piece is spectacular," he said. "The special thing about 'Sway'd' is that it puts into question how you interact with it. Every person is going to have different experience with that."

The $36,000 cost of "Sway'd" and its construction, Walker says, came from Salt Lake County funds set aside for temporary landscaping of the lot, with another $10,000 from a city arts grant.

"[The county] had to do something with the site — vegetation, plants and screening," Walker says. "The money had to be spent anyway. We said, 'We can do better than that.' "

Now, Walker and Salt Lake Art Center Director Adam Price are trying to make "Fluid Adagio" projects an ongoing part of downtown Salt Lake City, with temporary art works filling empty lots such as that left behind after a Sugar House neighborhood-development faltered.

"Our hope is they see this as a solution to empty space without a massive investment," Walker says.

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'Sway'd' kickoff

P What • Friday kickoff of new temporary art installation

Where • Located west of the Capitol Theatre at 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Event • Will include a 7 p.m. private dinner at the Olive Bistro, 57 West 200 South, Salt Lake City. After opening remarks on site at 8:45 p.m., the project will be opened with a ribbon cutting and performance.

Info • To learn more or buy tickets to the dinner, call 801-532-1727 or visit

Also • This month's Gallery Stroll has a new name, Gallery Roll, in honor of National Bike Month. For more information about participating galleries and artist receptions, visit