Tag : public art


 A monumental sculpture for Portland, Oregon begins to take shape.

Since 2010, we have been developing a sculpture for the Clinton Street light rail station, along TriMet’s new Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. Situated between the Hosford-Abernethy and Brooklyn neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, the community expressed a desire for a piece that would serve as a beacon to the station, which is set back 50 feet from a six-way intersection.


Inspired by the lines and curves of abstract topological transit maps and the powerful materiality of rail, we designed a piece to celebrate both, with a soaring interlocking tower and seemingly impossible bends. To execute our vision, however, we would need to develop an entirely new method for bending railroad track to the impossible angles required by the piece. Luckily, we found a couple of fabricators in the Portland area who were up to the challenge – Jim Schmidt and Ken Mack.


3D print of the sculpture


The piece is scheduled for installation at the end of 2014 or in early 2015, and we recently took a trip to Portland to visit Jim and Ken and their team to check in on the progress. What we found was inspiring. The fabrication team has developed a cutting-edge method for bending railroad track into angles the material was never meant to achieve. The results are simple, refined, elegant and impossible. Behold:



Ken Mack’s outdoor fabrication shop near Portland, Oregon.




Fabricator Samantha “Sam” Nagmay standing with her handiwork







Handsignals announces the new McCoppin plaza

Handsignals announces the new McCoppin plaza


We are currently in full fabrication mode on a permanent public artwork – Handsignals – that will mark the entrance to McCoppin Hub, a new public plaza in a small leftover space on Valencia Street near Market in San Francisco.

Handsignals refers to the formal qualities of the numerous theater signs prevalent in the Mission District, and repurposes that vocabulary to “advertise” a new public space. Made of familiar pedestrian traffic signals and lettered brightly to mark McCoppin Hub as a new public space, Handsignals plays at the edge between art and advertising.


The New Mission Theater, an icon of Mission Street

The New Mission Theater, an icon of Mission Street


The north-facing side of the piece spells “McCoppin” in bright yellow cast aluminum lettering. On the south-facing side, Handsignals repositions the meaning of the common pedestrian traffic signal by replacing the familiar “red hand” and “walking figure” with custom symbols designed to represent themes deeply imbedded in Mission District culture.  The piece playfully explores the relationship between a community and its emblems, identity and its abstractions, the sign and its signifier. The modules will blink on and off in a slow, irregular pattern, creating new combinations of symbols in a never-ending sequence.


Handsignals in situ







MoreLab designer and fabricator extraordinaire Stefan Gougherty


Handsignals began as a Rebar project, but is now held in the steady hands of MoreLab. Installation at McCoppin Hub is currently scheduled for mid-May 2014. Come have a look!



Dia de los Muertos symbol peeks out from the MoreLab studio