Exhibits at the new California Academy of Sciences give the time-honored specimen box a contemporary—and sustainable—spin.
Imagine receiving the following creative brief:
"Collaborate with a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, evolutionary biologists and ecologists, and the staff of a 157-year-old acclaimed research institution to create a new generation of sustainable exhibition design for a space bathed in natural light and without walls, in the middle of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco."
From the SEGD archives, a new era of public art is collaborative, viral, and above all participatory.
Traditional public art is an interesting contradiction in terms—one that often has very little to do with the public, says Andrew Shoben, founder of Greyworld, a London-based artists’ group that creates installations in public spaces.
The ethos of San Francisco’s de Young Museum is embedded in its copper skin and in architecturally integrated donor recognition.
San Francisco’s de Young Museum had been closed to the public since 2000 after being damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. After two bond issues for its reconstruction failed, it looked as though the museum might never reopen.
Made of tin cans, the donor wall for a food bank graphically represents the building's purpose and importance of donation. A simple grid identifies the donors by name and the size of their gifts. Sandblasted blue acrylic circles, painted on the backs of the cans, identify the donors. Clear acrylic circles are used to identify donor levels.
An alternate workspace for Gensler's San Francisco Retail and Graphic studios, this 2,800-square-foot, street level space demonstrates the company's approach to design. There are workstations but no offices, and resources are shared. The conference room and entry façade feature giant typographic dingbats as window graphics. Only a small sign (knee-level window graphics) identifies the studio. Non-traditional graphics are scattered throughout the studio.
This design for San Francisco's streets was meant to solve the ongoing problem of people dumping automobile oil into the storm drains and polluting San Francisco Bay. Stenciled warnings near existing drains, the designer felt, need constant maintenance and do little to deter people who already know they shouldn't dump. The proposed grate, shaped like a fish, would graphically challenge people by making their dirty deed concrete: dumping oil on a fish.