Larkin Street Lighting competition – Monoliths





Of great interest for us with the Larkin Street Lighting in San Francisco is the potential for creating a threshold condition—one that is to occupy a linear space, that of the street—as well as the unique and often not celebrated aspects of ‘The Loin.’ This particular landscape, into which our volumetric lighting proposal is to be sited, harbors for us many of the lost idiosyncrasies and multiply unique conditions as historically found within the city’s development, now lost to foreign development and rapid growth—transients, jazz clubs, parlors, lobby spaces, SRO’s (single room occupancy) and the ubiquitousness of the lighted marquee, perhaps a sign and signifier for some of the more leisurely pursuits found after dark.

The marquee was our initial starting point for our schematic lighting proposal, as we were intrigued by the multiple spatial and experiential (or, phenomenological) conditions that many of the lost and forgotten marquees of the Tenderloin, represent. We began by addressing their rather large volume—exactly how much area was afforded by these lit signs, signs which signify entry, but also the program, which, often times, shifting nightly, as a means to address the activation of the street level, typically public programs—and used that heft, or bulk, as a starting point, from which to delineate our own volumetric lighting, as an adaptable system.




Our Larkin Street Lighting proposal is an interactive system of linearly distributed, lit volumes–as abstracted monoliths. There is a choreography to the variability, or differences, between the volumetric figures—they are not pristine, idealized objects, intended to charm or abstract a complex experience, but instead deploy themselves in an existing urban landscape in an attempt to elevate a series of layers of screening and overlapping to express organizations of air and space, containers of program, eddies and swirls of density. The variable openings were each created by subtracting (boolean-ing) site lines and view corridors to unique aspects found along the length of the four-block site. Essentially, a controlled opening is created in the mass volume of light, to set up the view corridor from that particular monolith to a unique element found along the street, such as a prominent cornice line, or sign, or boiler plant chimney and community garden. We imagine multiple elemental sightings emanating from these Boolean Operands, ultimately as a means of situating ones own self in this particular city district.




Our proposal for a series of hearty, light volumes as sculptures comprised of circle packed PMMA rods exactly 269 CM (or, 8’-8.25”) in height, are each individually lit from within by a LED light at the top and bottom of the tube, oriented to cast light down along the length of the semi-transparent tube. The base will be made from powdercoated steel, for affixing (or bolting) directly to the concrete, while HDPE panel lengths will be used to “cap” the volumetrically lit monoliths.

A central question moving forward is, what are the essential, unique characteristics to be found at the Larkin Street site and its immediate surroundings, and how can these local influences be absorbed and synthesized into a series of Boolean Operands, for a publicly accessible art project proposal, one simultaneously reflective of the existing site conditions, but also with a newly emergent identity, or signature for the new found safety along the street corridor, ultimately forming a greater bond between new and old, but also a greater contextual response and unique attraction in and of itself. We hope these lit volumes (each at a Kubrick-ian monolith proportion of 1:4:9) are robust—resilient, even—and provide a new found attraction for the Tenderloin.