Central Subway: Moscone Station Proposals
CENTRAL SUBWAY MOSCONE STATION
On view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum July 9 – July 16, 2010
Opportunity for Public Review and Comment
Arts Commission staff will be on site at the Contemporary Jewish Museum to answer your questions about the Moscone Station Proposals on Tuesday, July 13, from Noon to 2 p.m.
In conjunction with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s new Central Subway stretching from Chinatown to South of Market, the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Public Art Program is managing a diverse and exciting public art program that includes permanent artworks and related arts programming in adjacent neighborhoods. Scheduled to be completed in 2018, the Central Subway will include three subway stations located in Chinatown,
Union Square/Market Street, and Moscone. Following two national open calls for artists, nineteen recognized local and national artists and artist teams were recently selected by community-based artist selection panels to create proposals for two permanent art opportunities at each station: a “landmark artwork” and a “wayfinding artwork”.
The “landmark artwork” is defined as one large scale, vibrant and engaging artwork that will create a station identity and a landmark for the neighborhood. The “landmark artwork” will be sited in a prime location such as the station entryways or the large wall expanses on the concourse levels. The “wayfinding artwork” is a project that will extend through two or three of the station levels, providing a thread for pedestrians to follow through the station to help with navigation.
Last fall, a community-based Central Subway Moscone Station Artist Selection Panel chose artists Brian Tolle, Joyce Hsu and Catherine Wagner to develop public art proposals for the landmark artwork at the Moscone Station. Tom Otterness, Mildred Howard and Michele Oka Doner were selected for the wayfinding public art opportunity. The proposals presented in this exhibition are the finalists’ preliminary concepts. Selected proposals will be further developed and refined to meet all feasibility, maintenance, safety and other requirements, as needed. All final designs are subject to approval by the Arts Commission prior to implementation.
The final Central Subway Moscone Station Artist Selection Panel Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, at 9 a.m. at the Arts Commission offices, located at 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 330 B. This meeting is open to the public.
Artist: Brian Tolle
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
- “Fog” by Carl Sandburg, 1913
Passengers ebb and flow through train stations, not unlike the fog that rolls in and out of San Francisco each morning and night. I propose the creation of landmark artworks that celebrate these phenomena. Using computer generated models and state of the art CNC router technologies, molds will be generated to create unique works that depict single moments of a surface seemingly in motion. The works proposed will be cast in translucent fiberglass.
There are two locations in the Moscone Station that are very well suited for the landmark artworks which I propose.
Site one is very prominent both from the exterior and interior of the station. The work for this location fills the existing wall opening completely. The changing natural light will animate the undulating vertical surfaces. The work is approximately twenty-five feet long by fourteen feet high.
Site two is interesting in that visitors/viewers pass by it as they make their way down and up to and from the train platforms. The relief will appear very differently from that located at site one, as it will be illuminated artificially creating a mysterious glow from within. Its dimensions are approximately fifty-one feet long by fourteen feet high.
Both works will play off the other. They are atmospheric renditions of the dialectic between the natural world and that constructed by man.
Artist: Joyce Hsu
At one time, the San Francisco Bay estuarine system was a rich, complex, and diverse ecological habitat teeming with large varieties of wildlife both above and below its waters. Tidal marshes occupied about 200,000 acres along the bay’s margins in the early 1800s. Millions of birds once used San Francisco Bay as part of their Pacific Flyway migration. Even now, San Francisco Bay is known as a major North American refuge for many species of shorebirds and waterfowl during their migration and wintering periods.
Transit systems often engender love-hate relationships, their discomfort and crowdedness often overshadowing their convenience and efficiency. We often wish for a better, more personal experience. Some of us have gone so far as to dream of our own personal flying device – a machine that would allow us to avoid our daily commute and let us soar above the earth.
Although San Francisco Bay has experienced manmade modifications for centuries, man’s influence on the environment has increased significantly in both degree and scope over the past 150 years: tidal marshes have given way to newly paved sidewalks, and concrete roadways and flocks of migrating birds have been replaced by crowds in transit.
Mankind has always looked towards the sky for better mobility. We have always dreamed of flying. For most of this time, the only frame of reference were birds. Not surprisingly, myths and stories are filled with heroes who strap wings or feathers to their arms and attempt flight. In the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci documented the first scientific study of flight and his vision of a flying machine. Not until the early 20th century did technology and science have the tools to make flight a reality. However, our dream for better mobility remains.
The average commuter may spend up to five hours a week in a transit station for their daily migration. For me, these spaces are hardly inspiring of dreams. But what if commuters were presented with a flock of jet-pack flying devices (ornithopters) with bird-like wings against the backdrop of a dreamlike sky? The artwork would be the embodiment of both the imaginative (flying) and natural landscape (marshland) into the constructed environment (station). It will become a strong icon for the station, offering commuters a reminder of their dreams and an opportunity to dissect that eternal problem up close. The installation will be aesthetically intriguing, and become synonymous with the vibrancy of South of Market.
Artist: Catherine Wagner
Title: Arc Cycle (working title)
In the late 1970s I photographed the beginning of the construction of the Moscone Center. My interest was not in the convention center as it stands today, rather it was the process of construction that speaks to the idea of change, a common denominator in all of our lives. For the new Moscone Central Subway Station, I propose to transform images from the series George Moscone Site into large-scale photographic drawings that are seen as sculptural reliefs. These would span the concourse wall from the turnstiles to the elevator shaft (concourse end, concourse side wall). The images of the Moscone Center construction in process would be sandblasted and laser etched onto a grey stone or metal panel that would be set, slightly recessed, into the wall. Having the opportunity to transcribe this imagery onto the subterranean façade, close to the site of their creation would highlight the cyclical nature of dynamic urban change.
When I began photographing, this site was considered the edge of the city. Now, Moscone Center has become a geographic and cultural center of San Francisco. I was and am still fascinated by the multiple ways of viewing and reading these photographs. At the time, I was working with the idea of “archaeology in reverse,” an idea which reverberates with the building of this new subterranean space. The processes of sandblasting and laser etching these photographs onto stone or metal transforms the images into monumental drawings that seem to emerge from the walls. The ability to realize these immense photographic wall drawings brings the element of archeology in this work to a new level. Archeology is the study of culture through the examination of materials and environment. I believe these images are important markers of place and time that encourage viewers to consider both the area’s past and its future.
The sculptural photographic reliefs of the immense rebar arches will emanate from the gray stone or metal panels. The materials and the iconic forms together create a formal beauty. Users of the Moscone Station will discover these images sited rhythmically along the concourse wall as they descend into the station or ascend from the platform. Spanning almost the full length of the concourse wall, the landmark artwork will enliven the space. The artwork givies visual interest to the journey to and from the elevators and invites those passing by to pause in their otherwise quotidian travels.
The construction of the Moscone Center was a huge signal of change for the surrounding area and for the city as a whole; this similar sense of momentous change is echoed in the building of the Central Subway. In this proposed project I aim to join past and present in both visual and conceptual ways that will encourage visitors to reflect upon the future.
Artist: Tom Otterness
My initial ideas show the movement of life from above ground to the track level – using figures and buildings that are a crossbetween early constructivist abstraction and simple children’s building blocks. People are represented by four essentialgeometric forms: the sphere, the cone, the cube and the cylinder. These abstract concepts can symbolize differences in race, class, culture and gender. The project will demonstrate the intermingling of all these different people on the platform of the subway, commuting to work, shopping with their families, carrying things here and there, and tourists with cameras on the way to museums. Like the city, the subway is a place where all types are welcome, where everyone converges and everyoneis on equal footing.
I would like to focus my proposal on three areas of the station: the ticketing hall portals and possibly the beam at the concourselevel, the concourse end wall near the escalators and the benches at the platform level. All of the free standing and relief architectural elements will be in cast concrete. The figures, birds, trucks, trains and all remaining elements will be in cast silicone bronze. There will be approximately 40 bronze figures/elements, ranging in size from 24, 12 and 6 inches tall.
The materials I am proposing are durable and require minimal maintenance. The bronze sun clock shown in the relief on the end wall at the concourse level will be a working clock, designed so that the station crew can easily open the clock face for any necessary maintenance work. I have worked with The Verdin Company, a clock manufacturing company to produce clocks for an outdoor installation at the Hilton Times Square Hotel in NYC.
With respect to safety, I have extensive experience in meeting ADA and safety guidelines for placing bronzes in the subway. In the past, I have worked closely with architects to reach solutions that are practical and did not affect the construction schedule. I am very confident about my ability to solve any concerns that may arise.
Artist: Mildred Howard
I find myself fascinated by the history of the proposed Moscone Subway Station. Originally a swamp at the edge of the bay, it was dredged and became a port, then a large Filipino community – until it eventually found itself next to the hub of San Francisco’s thriving commerce and culture. In other words, this site holds a rich history directly connected to the diversity of people that made San Francisco what it is today. Digging down into the earth to create a subway station becomes a metaphor for excavating stories from many layers of history, enriching our daily lives.
Waiting for a train to arrive, you may daydream of people or events that happened at this site in the past or even some you just saw last week. Subway stations are an allegory of modern life, with movement, fleeting glimpses of people and random relationships, mysteriously acceptable. To capture these ideas and help people navigate through the space, I would install related art pieces at all three levels of the station, as if leaving bread crumbs as clues to find your way to and from a particular place. This method would incorporate an art piece repeated in different shapes and locations within the station. This led me to the idea of the grid of glass at various locations that reveals imagery, telling the rich history of the site and the diversity of people who use the station. It conveys the mystery of the experience of walking down into the earth to catch a train that will disappear into a black hole while I am on it!
Research will help me to find historical photographs of people and objects to place in or behind laminated glass. A simple and long lasting LED lighting fixture, easy to maintain and requiring very little electricity, could be used to illuminate the images.
While looking for ways to bring magic into the art to connect to the intriguing mystery of the subway, I came across a transparent polarizing film that turns the transparency of glass into a frosted appearance. When you look through the glass at a specific angle, it magically turns the glass clear to reveal the image behind. If you keep moving, the angle of sight changes and inexplicably the glass turns back to a frosted state. This passive effect can be physically orchestrated to correspond to a person’s movement in a direction that would draw you from one revealed image to the next. In other words, as the first image fades, then the next picture appears drawing you forward in anticipation of what will be revealed. Eventually, a visitor to the station arrives at the lowest level to find glass and stainless steel benches: shapes of unusually oversized old transit tokens or antique transfer slips or even real artifacts discovered in the excavation of the station which have been cast into layered fused glass-resin benches. An old money changer becomes a trash receptacle for trash and recycled items. It is as if you found these surreal objects that were discovered in an archeological dig at the site of the station. With the right manipulation of the images the experience could capture those fleeting moments in time and space, as people and things appear and disappear. The goal would be an experience that engages, enlightens and arouses the curiosity of each visitor to the subway.
Artist: Michele Oka Doner
Title: Radiant Rays
The Moscone Station in San Francisco provides an exciting canvas for a wayfinding work of art. Multiple levels and many transitions challenge the artist to provide a visual thread for the numerous travelers to grasp as they navigate the new subway station.
Monolithic concrete, the primary construction material of the station, is by far the most potent factor to consider when responding to the mission statement. With this in mind I propose a work of art based on light.
Beginning with the glass curtain wall of the head house an expanding radiant pattern, evoking the sun’s rays, will dominate the entrance. This radial motion is designed with an actual vanishing point in mind. It establishes palpable tension in the visual surface of the head house glass wall, and serves to extend the sense of space to an imagined plane.
The lines themselves will be sandblasted into the glass curtain wall and tipped lightly with gold leaf, adding a high note of brilliance to the site.
After being uplifted by a radiant entrance the traveler will be guided into the station along the rays of light in a space covered with stunning white marble aggregates combined and polished into terrazzo. This floor, beginning in the head house at the top of the escalators and continuing in the ticket hall at the bottom of the escalators, pushes back the omnipresent concrete, adds light to the site with its own contained radiance, and reflects the beautiful golden light that streams in from the head house. Brass strips inserted into the poured marble aggregate continue the radiant pattern, carrying the motif into the station’s interior.
Once past the terrazzo floor on the ticket hall level travelers will see the radiant motif transformed into three dimensions within the ticket hall portals. Gold anodized aluminum rods will be used to create two distinct sculptures of the sun’s rays, which will appear to be shinning down from the head house and captured within the portals. The golden rays will move in space, implying sources of solar energy.
Just beyond the portals and extending from the ticket hall level down to the platform level travelers will find the elevator enclosures covered in radiant gold tipped glass in a similar, yet distinct, manner as the glass curtain wall of the head house. The implied vanishing points will work their magic, and energy from the sun’s rays will appear to penetrate the station down to the platform level greeting travelers with rays of light.
Radiant Rays promises to have a palpable voice. It will carry the language of beauty and light from the top of the Moscone Station down to the platform level and enter the minds and spirit of San Francisco’s transit travelers.