Christo and Jeanne-Claude "Over the River" Project - Approved to Stretch Across Arkansas River

Photo: Wolfgang Volz // © 1999 Christo

Controversial artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude – known for making large-scale architectural interventions in urban and rural environments – have finally gotten approval from the Bureau of Land Management to construct their most recent project “Over the River”, which will stretch along 5.9 miles along the Arkansas River in Southern Colorado.

Read on for details of the project and more images!

“Over the River” will include fabric panels distributed in sections along the 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.  From the artists’ website:

Photo: André Grossmann // © 2010 Christo

Steel wire cables, anchored on the upper part of the riverbanks, will cross the river and serve as attachment for the fabric panels. The woven fabric panels, sewn in advance, with rows of grommets at the edges perpendicular to the river, will create shimmering waves of fabric, 8 to 25 feet (2.4 to 7.6 meters) above the water. The 5.9 mile (9.4 kilometer) long stream of successive fabric panels will be interrupted by bridges, rocks, trees and bushes, and for esthetic reasons, creating abundant flows of light. 


The site was selected based on the consideration that “in the USA, most of the rivers are born in the Rocky Mountains” (Christo and Jeanne-Claude). It was to have high bank walls, waters used for rafting, and a road running alongside it – presumably to make the installation visually accessible from a many perspectives, chanced upon or planned visits.

Photo: Wolfgang Volz // © 2009 Christo

The idea for “Over the River” has been in development for several years – site selection began in the mid-90s – but concerns over the potential environmental impacts have delayed its realization. Although BLM ultimately approved the project, which began in 2009, the Colorado Wildlife Commission and the Division of Parks and Wildlife cited the adverse effects that the 5.9 miles of fabric would have on the wildlife around the river, according to a New York Times article by Kirk Johnson. The construction of the project will include 100 measures to mitigate any impacts on wildlife, traffic or safety during the installation and exhibition of the work. If all goes as planned, construction will begin in the Summer of 2012, and will be on display for two consecutive weeks in August 2014.

Courtesy of Christo and Jeanne-Claude

For updates on the project visit For information on the Environmental Report visit BLM.

About this author
Cite: Irina Vinnitskaya. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude "Over the River" Project - Approved to Stretch Across Arkansas River" 19 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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