San Diego Registrar of Voters Building

Submitted by James Robbins

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Client: County of San Diego

Location: San Diego, 92101

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $225,000

Project Team

Artist

Jun Kaneko

Architect

James Robbins

RJC Architects

Client

Jeff Redlitz

County of San Diego

Other

Rob Reitenour

Lowe Enterprises

Art Consultant

Gail Goldman

Overview

The Registrar of Voters facility was the third phase of the San Diego County Operations Center. Located at the end of a long pedestrian axis, the 118,000 SF facility includes offices, election ballot processing capabilities, and warehouse space. The 47-acre Center is being developed in phases, and the County has demonstrated an on-going commitment to public art. The facility features two 6-foot glazed ceramic sculptures by Jun Kaneko that are neutral, identically scaled monumental forms, one with abstract facial features and the other without. The heads are sited to form a gateway into the new building.

Goals

The building is sited at the end of a pedestrian axis, but is separated from other facilities on the campus by an expanse of surface parking. The new art installation establishes an orienting site landmark that reinforces the building’s visual presence on campus, creating a colorful gateway that is relevant to the building’s mission. The building, in turn, creates a neutral backdrop for the art. The sculptures are easily visible against the Registrar of Voters’ perforated metal façade, and they installation suggest the significance of democratic dialog. The installation engages an audience at a distance as well as close proximity.

Process

A team consisting of the Public Art Consultant, the Owner, the Developer and the Architect selected the sculptures because of their relationship to the building’s mission. The Architect and Landscape Architect created digital models that allowed for all stakeholders to study of different site installations and evaluate the effect of alternative site placements on perception of both the art and the building during the entry procession. Creation of the sculptures is a four month process due to the time required for the bottom layers to be dry enough to hold the next layer of wet clay. The Heads are hand-glazed and take up to 35 days to fire in a custom built kiln. The red-banding is created through oxidation when small amounts of copper in the blue base glaze come in contact with oxygen during the firing.

Additional Information

At the Building's ribbon cutting, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts reaffirmed the value of public art and said of the sculptures,“To me, they represent what the county really is, and that’s people.”