Client: San Diego County
Location: San Diego, CA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $240,000
Gail M. Goldman Associates
Zadok Ben-David’s artwork results from years of interest in human nature and its representation in sculpture. Ben-David likes to push the possibilities that lie within the sculptural medium, defying the properties of the Corten steel and transforming the heavy material to appear light, like a drawn silhouette against the sky. The figure, comprised of hundreds of hand-cut steel small figures, reflects our human interconnectedness. Although the sculpture appears as one single figure, it contains a world of many figures. Some are clearly visible and others are hidden, yet it can be read as one human form with many faces.
At 17 feet high and seven feet wide, Perhaps anchors the campus and serves as an important landmark for visitors and staff. With understated architecture, the County Operations Center was designed as a typical office park with four identical office buildings, parking garage, and campus center. The goal was to create a significant artwork to define the campus and capitalize on pedestrian egress from the parking garage leading to the north/south promenade and to a primary garden and gathering space to the west. It also was essential that the artwork be integrated into the landscape and be visible from the main vehicular entrance and front gate to the campus.
In addition to addressing all these criteria, the sculpture has the appeal of drawing viewers from a distance as well as within close range. The artwork is readable from many vantage points on the campus, prompting surprise and interest upon closer inspection when the viewer realizes there are hundreds of figures within the figure.
Choosing the site for the sculpture was a team effort. The goal was to place the artwork where views from all directions would be optimal. The artist, design team, and developer walked the site, and opted to place the figure near the intersection of the east-west and north-south walkways. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun – the project manager took it upon himself to represent the sculpture, posing at various locations to give the rest of the team an idea of how it would be viewed from various vantage points.
After the anchoring system and concrete pad were constructed, the team once again converged at the site, this time with the artwork installer and senior County staff also present. A gratifying and unexpected collaboration occurred when the construction contractor and his crew showed up with a plywood cartoon cutout of the sculpture to scale that they had prepared for the occasion. Attached to the silhouette was a hinged two-by-four which the crew used to prop the model each time they were asked to relocate it on the pad. This was the process used in determining the exact placement of the sculpture in preparation for its arrival.
As an integral part of the newly-built County Operations Center, San Diego County commissioned and purchased a collection of 22 works by 14 artists totaling $1.7M. The new office campus is built on the footprint of the existing 47-acre operations center, providing an integrated and full-service facility for employees and residents visiting on business. Consultant Gail Goldman created the overall art plan for the new complex prior to construction and identified potential artists for consideration by the selection committee. The project won the coveted 2012 People’s Choice Orchid for successful integration of architecture, landscape, sustainable design, and artwork.