Client: Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Location: Palo Alto, CA, United States
Completion date: 2006
Hawley Peterson & Snyder
A.R.T Fine Arts
A simple glass pavilion encloses the subterranean elevator shaft. With the help of sunlight, the north wall of the pavilion acts like a projection screen by capturing sunlight as it projects through the roof. Laminated to the glass roof are dichroic glass letters. At certain times of day, the word “LIFT” is visible on the projection screen. Depending on the time of year, LIFT appears as a twelve inch tall text in magenta. During the summer months, LIFT is blue in color and three feet tall.
The city of Palo Alto ordinance required the incorporation of public art into this private development near the downtown area. A decision was made early in the project to have a freestanding elevator enclosure be the location for the public art. Facing Homer Street and the Caltrans railroad tracks, the east side of the building is visible to hundreds of people daily. We wanted to create an installation that had a dynamism to it so that on a yearly, weekly, daily and hourly basis, the artwork provided a sense of surprise to viewers.
Curtis Snyder of Hawley Peterson and Snyder Architects in Mountain View, CA conceived the idea of incorporating the public art into the freestanding elevator enclosure. Initially, we discussed treating the surfaces of the elevator enclosure in some manner but, as we project evolved, Curtis asked the question, "What are you hoping to do with the artwork in the project?" My response was, "Create an uplifting place for people to arrive at when they exit or enter the elevator." With that exchange, the idea of using light to project the word "LIFT" onto the wall of the building was conceived.