Location: Palo Alto, CA, United States
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $225,000
Robert J. Giannini
Carol Dabb, Art Consultant
Studio Five Design
Fabricated from stainless steel tubing, “Approach” measures 33′ by 18′ by 6′ tall. VMware is known for its software applications that create virtual machines. One physical server can function as several servers. VMware’s software enables computers to self-replicate in a virtual environment.
Inspired by the iterative nature of VMware’s software and fractal geometry, the public art sculpture echoes patterns found in the regional sloughs winding through the San Francisco Bay wetlands of Palo Alto. The piece is intended to encourage people to approach and interact with the sculpture by walking around it, leaning against it, and sitting on it.
Besides meeting the city of Palo Alto public art ordinance for private development, the sculpture is meant to create an identity for the corporate campus at their headquarters main entrance. "Approach" sits on a new plaza that is adjacent to the welcoming center. Due to its central location, visitors and staff often use the square as a meeting point and gathering area for informal meetings.
From the beginning, VMware was clear in communicating the qualities they hoped to see in the sculpture while giving the artist room to interpret his vision in his way. VMware's team talked about things like "living or landscape inspired, understated, inviting, reflecting a spirit of ingenuity." The architect and landscape architect also expressed a desire to create a fitting link between the main entrance to the campus and the "Town Square" immediately behind the sculpture plaza. We considered various design concepts until we hit upon the idea of combining the geometric qualities found in nature with the iterative aspects found in VMware's software.