Illustrating Sacramento’s future: Mural reflects what inspires our staff, City residents

January 9, 2019 Alfonso Rodriguez

Employees watched our #DowntownSacStory mural project come to life outside the office and fully embody our pledge to design with community in mind


Having lived my entire life in California, I am still amazed by its beauty and wonderful communities. Sacramento is a vibrant and growing and, in addition to being our state capital, it’s a place where people work hard and play hard.

The spirit of Sacramento continues to evolve. Sacramentans have created a city that incubates new ideas, encourages entrepreneurship, and is dedicated to the arts. Sacramento is now America’s “farm-to-fork” capitol and the region is home to more than 40 farmers’ markets—including the largest California Certified Farmers’ Market in the state. The farm-to-fork phenomenon has helped drive the growth of downtown’s dining scene, which has recently come alive with new restaurants, bars, craft breweries, and the always-popular gastropub. There’s been a synergistic growth of ideas and optimism, looking at everything from what Sacramento has been to what it is becoming.


Mural artist MurOne begins the process of turning two walls on a parking garage into the #DowntownSacStory.


It’s the perfect place for Stantec because we design with community in mind and our team members are a part of what makes this community so special.

In 2018, Sacramento celebrated 20 years of development in the Downtown neighborhood at the annual “State of Downtown” event presented by the Downtown Partnership. It was a great opportunity to look back at what’s been accomplished here.

All that history is important. But what’s more important is the future.


Our connection to Sacramento: The people, places, and the City’s fabric

As we considered how best to mark the “State of Downtown,” I thought a lot about our team—and the pride we take in helping to grow and transform our community. For more than 60 years, Stantec and our legacy firms have worked on projects in downtown, throughout the urban core, and the greater Sacramento region. When I drive through the city and see everything our company has helped create—from cutting-edge medical centers to parks to residential buildings, even the Sacramento Railyards redevelopment, it’s no wonder we feel so invested in the community.

This led me to wonder: What will the future hold? How can we help shape and celebrate Sacramento’s future? It was this that led us to launch the “Downtown Sac Stories” initiative for the 21st annual State of Downtown breakfast. During the event, attendees were asked to share their vision for the future of downtown Sacramento—in just six words. The campaign continued into the summer, with digital billboards encouraging Sacramentans to add their stories. The responses, like our city, were diverse and spirited—and sometimes outright funny:

  • “A destination city for young professionals”—@ChristineBMahon
  • “Hot summer days at the riverfront”—@kylemdesign
  • “Evolving. Vibrant. Eclectic. Diverse. Fun. Home.”—@jityru
  • “Delta breezes without the sneezes”—Jessica Morrow
  • “More bike lanes and vegan eats!!!!”—@shananagains
  • “Wonderful community always working together.”—@aka_ElleBee


The #DowntownSacStory mural comes to life right outside the Stantec office at 555 Capitol Mall in Sacramento, California. Working with the Downtown Partnership and Wide Open Walls, we were able to help support the mission to design with community in mind by using community voices to drive the mural concept.


The City’s vision: Turning the intangible into the tangible

We wanted to give these stories life, so we partnered with Wide Open Walls to create a public mural inspired by these community voices. Working with Wide Open Walls and Downtown Partnership, we provided the stories and the overarching themes to Spanish artist Iker Muro (MurOne), and he turned the community’s stories into a tangible representation of the city’s collective vision for the future during the city’s annual mural festival.

The best part? The mural lives right outside our office at 555 Capitol Mall, spanning five stories on the exterior, street-facing façade of the parking garage’s 5th Street entrance.

_q_tweetable:The mural embodies what we stand for as a company: the spread of opportunity, community, creativity, and culture. We’re committed to continuing to design and work in harmony with the mural’s themes._q_Once Muro stepped down from his ladder, paintbrush still wet, the #DowntownSacStory mural was a bright and lively mixture of pop culture, illustration, and graphic design. It was inspired by the primary themes from the stories submitted: opportunity, community, creativity and culture, destination development at the waterfront, and pedestrian-/bike-friendly transportation.

These themes speak to what drives our company. We strive to make a meaningful difference in the local areas where our team members work and live. Our team is leading the design of The California Military Department’s Consolidated Headquarters Complex, which is set to become one of the first large scale new Zero Net Energy projects that will be implemented by the State of California after the issuance of Governor Jerry Brown's Executive Order B-18-12 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency in California. And thanks to a recently completed Joint Intake and Fish Screen Facility on California’s Sacramento River, salmon and endangered native fish are better protected, about 15,000 acres of crops are getting irrigation, and the cities of Davis and Woodland have a more reliable water supply. The mural embodies what we stand for as a company: the spread of opportunity, community, creativity, and culture. We’re committed to continuing to design and work in harmony with the mural’s themes.


A lasting impact

Watching the installation process and seeing Muro’s interpretation of the stories and themes take shape was inspirational. He transformed a corner of the parking garage into a colorful spectacle, stretching from the ground up five stories. The resulting piece is as fun and eclectic as the Sacramento community itself. When we talk about designing with community in mind, this project is the perfect reflection of that—the community provided all the input for the design.

Sacramento’s enthusiasm and pride has spread throughout the City in recent years—and that spirit is alive at Stantec as well. We’re proud to see how our work impacts the community and we wanted to give everyone the chance to feel that tangible sense of impact. Every story has life in this mural and Sacramentans can enjoy in a piece of art that celebrates our community and its future.

Thank you, Sacramento, for sharing your stories with us! I hope that when you visit the mural you can find a piece of your story reflected there and that you feel as proud as we do about helping to shape the future of our community.

About the Author

Alfonso Rodriguez

Alfonso Rodriguez is the operational lead of Stantec’s United States Pacific Region with offices throughout California and Hawaii. He is engaged with a variety of public and private clients in the many sectors we serve.

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