This inventive Tucson business is an engineer’s paradise

You might have driven by this sculpture, The Bike Church, a walk-in metal sculpture made of bike parts, stained-glass windows and musical chimes on Granada Avenue and wondered who made it. You might have seen The Desert O (Pictured Below) and not have known that there is a secret button hidden that will change the colors of the lights. Have you seen a ball machine in a museum or science center before? The same company probably made it.

Hidden in Tucson’s south side, Creative Machines is one of the city’s most unique and inventive businesses. AZ Weekend was given a behind the scenes tour, led by Founder and President Joe O’Connell. We got a peak into how these larger-than-life art pieces are made.

Their three-warehouse headquarters houses 38 engineers, artists, scientists and fabricators creating large-scale public art installations and interactive exhibits for clients in Tucson and around the world. Their works spans different styles and techniques in the creation of exhibition designs, ball machine sculptures, and monumental public art. O’Connell says that he is consistently inspired by his team as they create work that is beautiful at first glance, but yields deeper rewards if you choose to interact with it. They are always trying to create work with Easter Eggs in it.

Since 1995, they have been making dynamic experiences for museums, science centers, libraries, hospitals, university campuses, transit stops, art museums, children’s museums, trade shows, professional conferences, private residences, and public spaces across the globe. For more info on Creative Machines and their previous work, visit