New look planned for SF Civic Center

February 19, 2009 1:30:47 PM PST
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom joined artists and city officials in Civic Center Plaza today to announce a high-profile art project and several other improvements under way in the city's Civic Center area.

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Newsom held a news conference to highlight the changes, which include an environmental sculpture interwoven into the plaza's trees, new fencing, and plants along median strips on Market Street.

The sculpture, titled "The Upper Crust", was a project started earlier this month by artist Patrick Dougherty and five assistants who wove 18,000 pounds of freshly cut willow saplings into the sycamore trees of Civic Center Plaza.

Newsom said exhibits like Dougherty's serve the purpose of "elevating a sense of pride and well-being in people visiting them, because that's what great public art is all about."

The sculpture is scheduled to remain in the plaza until at least November, according to Dougherty, who said the sculpture will change as the trees undergo their seasonal changes throughout the year.

Other changes announced today include new fencing at the Bay Area Rapid Transit Civic Center station entrance at Market and Seventh streets, and new drought-resistant median plants in front of the Orpheum Theater at Hyde and Market streets.

A free wireless Internet network, a new outdoor cafe, and improved lighting at UN Plaza were also among the changes listed.

Newsom said the sculpture and other projects are part of an effort to "activate" the Civic Center area and to transform it into a sustainable and vibrant area of the city.

Other future projects he suggested for the area include solar rooftop photovoltaics, water conservation fixtures, and living roofs similar to the one at the California Academy of Sciences.

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