Marvels of Modernism: Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks

Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks

As a Bauhaus master, Herbert Bayer’s career was dedicated to integrating artistic concerns into the everyday operations of society.

With the Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, he created a much loved public park, stormwater detention dam, and Modernist masterpiece. A series of sculpted spaces that feel both ancient and modern, the Earthworks’ pure forms—cones, circles, lines, and berms—are built into the alluvial delta at the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon. Grass and concrete, a wood bridge and steps: these are the materials at work, joined by the natural forces of Mill Creek itself. Installed in 1982, the Earthworks were immediately lauded for their fusion of art and infrastructure. Today, the same issues that necessitated building the Earthworks 25 years ago have dramatically intensified.

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