Eugene O'Neill in Danville

Merit Award

Located in a public park in downtown Danville, this permanent public artwork commemorates the only American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. O'Neill wrote some of his greatest works while residing in Danville.

The entire work consists of a 9-foot-high typographic sculpture, eight information pedestals, and one shorter donor pedestal. The pedestals are positioned so they can be read from a wheelchair or by a small but very intelligent child. Materials include classic typography, bronze, and porcelain enamel. The water-jet cut lettering, out of one sheet of 1-inch-thick bronze, is considerably more difficult and risky than it looks. The result is striking, but in a restrained way.

The challenge was to make something that was stylistically and materially enduring, compatible with the nature of O'Neill's work, and appropriate to the site. O'Neill's plays seem unhappy and bleak to most people so the quote used for the central piece is jarring and blunt, even for a piece of public art. But the town was eager to rectify something long overdue and the O'Neill Foundation was committed to the author's artistry. Interestingly, almost everyone, including small children, stops, reads, and then rereads the quote.

Jury Comments: 

"This commemorative display reflects the author's works, often seen as unhappy and bleak. In a park setting, a focal typographic sculpture provides insight into the characters that appear in O'Neill's plays. Books displayed on pedestals cleverly represent the author and his works. Rich in color, texture, and imagery."

Design Firm: 

The Office of Michael Manwaring


Eugene O'Neill Foundation

Location City: 

Danville, California

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Michael Manwaring

Design Team: 

Michael Manwaring (Principal in Charge), Rochele Tanabe


James Keppel (design documentation and construction administration)


Artworks Foundry, Mach 1, Winsor Fireform, Fluoresco

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