Client: General Services Administration, Art in Architecture Program
Location: San Francisco, CA, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $460,000
Cliff Garten Studio
Public Art Agency
General Services Administration, Art in Architecture Program
Ribbons is a landscape sculpture for the Art and Architecture Program of the General Services Administration, at 50 United Nations Plaza, San Francisco, CA. The courtyard design transforms the classical symmetry of the 1932 Arthur Brown building, by inserting a sculptural matrix of paving, seating, fountains and planting into the building’s 20,000 sq. ft. courtyard. Garten re-envisioned the two classical fountains in Arthur Brown’s original 1932 plan (which were never built) as contemporary granite forms.
The green character of the courtyard is based on simple sustainable technologies, with
low water, shade tolerant planting beneath a grove of 32 white birch trees that create vertical
dimension between the active ground plane and the buildings white brick walls. Ribbons cuts a
sensitive line between the preservation of the historical architecture and the adaptive reuse of the
Federal Building by the GSA and its aggressive Sustainability initiative for the project under GSA’s
Design Excellence Program.