The Height of Divine Inspiration
The Height of Divine Inspiration
If you are César Pelli, the Argentine American architect, you are famous for designing some of the world’s tallest buildings and urban landmarks. Your art-deco inspired style has graced structures like the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (which were for a time the world’s tallest buildings), 1 Canada Square in London, and the World Financial Center complex in Manhattan’s financial district. You were named as one of the ten most influential architects by the American Institute of Architects—and that honor came in 1991; you have done a lot since then, too.
But if you are César Pelli, you don’t rest on your honors. You keep reaching for the sky—and even though you have nothing to prove, perhaps the addition of America’s tallest art installation will add even more interest to your latest building.
The Salesforce Tower has already changed the skyline of San Francisco, but as it nears completion, it’s what is happening at the very top that is creating a lot of buzz—a nine-story-tall, ever-changing LED display. It is planned to show scenes at night photographed of goings-on in the city each day.
Salesforce became incredibly successfully by being an early pioneer in the use of cloud computing software. Salesforce.com helps companies manage their sales efforts and customer relationship management (CRM) . Shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CRM), and with a current market cap of $61.85 billion, Salesforce can afford to hire architects like Pelli—and Jim Campbell, the noted Bay Area artist behind the tower-topping installation.
The 1,070-foot-tall building at 415 Mission Street has been lauded for its environmentally conscious construction, its structural considerations that include the building being anchored into the bedrock far below (to avoid the problems currently plaguing another nearby building—the Millennium Tower– which is famously sinking and tilting), and its enormity.
But after the San Francisco Planning Commission unveiled Campbell’s plan for his LED-centric work of art it is Campbell’s piece getting all the attention. It features 11,000 individual LED lights over the top nine floors of the skyscraper, operating in what has been called ‘ballet-like synchronicity’ to create ever-changing images.
Never having been done before in the context of architecture, the LEDs will be mounted onto the outside of the building facing inward…
This process of reflecting the light off of the surface, as I have done in previous studio work, creates a soft and continuous image instead of a harsh direct image like a Times Square video screen…. One cannot get close to it. It has an ambient presence that is always in the background with the skyline.
And yes, the LEDs will sync up to project images that are unique (and one-of-a-kind) to the city below. Images from earlier that day will be captured by six cameras posted around the city, capturing people on the streets, the Pacific Ocean, and more.
Campbell talks about his process and shows some of his artistic works via the video link below:
Immortality in architectural design is genius written on a large canvas. It is an art in and of itself, yet is functional. But when a structurally functional and beautiful building is paired with a truly unique piece of art as well? The result can be a tall beacon of light for those who appreciate art and artistry all over San Francisco—and indeed, all over the world.
The Salesforce Tower, designed by César Pelli and topped by America’s tallest art installation by Jim Campbell, is truly a work of design inspiration.
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