Truly awesome art at new downtown transit center

Artist Julie Chang had some inspirational words about “The Secret Garden,” her design on the 20,000-square-foot terrazzo floor in the new downtown Salesforce Transit Center.

“It’s my metaphor for a new level of social harmony where difference is celebrated,” said the artist, who showed off her provocative, colorful, spiritual design — of patterns, icons, flowers, birds and insects — during a sneak preview on Friday of the new center at Fremont and Natoma streets.

Jill Manton, director of public art trust and special initiatives at the San Francisco Arts Commission, who helped acquire $4.75 million for public art for the space and has been working on the project since 2006, called the new transit center “the Grand Central of the West.”

Up on a garden rooftop, filled with plants representing various California landscapes, artist Ned Kahn — who was part of the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects team designing the center — oversaw a demonstration of his ingenious piece, “Bus Jet Fountain.” The 1,000-foot long linear fountain is powered by vehicles on the deck below; their movement triggers sensors controlling the frequency, motion and height of the water.

“The bus drivers are the choreographers of this piece,” said Kahn.

Ned Kahn is pictured on the transit center’s rooftop garden with his amazing fountain, which is activated by buses driving on the deck below. (Leslie Katz/S.F. Examiner)

At the center of the Grand Hall is artist Jenny Holzer’s monumental “White Light,” an elliptical LED installation and sculptural light column, featuring scrolling text specific to San Francisco by dozens of famous writers; it’s truly remarkable.

“I thought I’d offer people plenty to read and watch while they visit or wait to travel, and make the building throb and glow at night,” said Holzer.

Text by famous authors scrolls through Jenny Holzer’s evocative installation at the transit center. (Leslie Katz/S.F. Examiner)

The center is slated to open on Aug. 11; the rooftop garden is a public park that will open daily at 6 a.m.

Leslie Katz
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Leslie Katz

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