Celebrate, in progress

 This new BRT along the corridor between Downtown Oakland and San Leandro is a system of the future. Celebration recognizes and celebrates this future while honoring the past of the area and the rich cultural diversity of the present.

Color and energy vibrate along the corridor with colorful murals and store fronts. Celebration takes its cue from these and brings varied palettes of color and image to each neighborhood to reflect ways each community celebrates special occasions and life itself. These stations will be illuminated, colorful beacons highly visible and instantly recognizable to encourage use by riders as well as those in cars. Throughout all the stations, arcs penetrate and appear to move through the air suggesting the spinning wheels of energy, speed and movement toward the future. Each image has as its background old maps of the area in homage to the past.

Neighborhoods will be identified and given a unique series of images and color while at the same time the arcs and roof color remain consistent elements that tie together the whole line. The neighborhoods are knit together by the instantly recognizable consistent forms and color that exists throughout the corridor.

Visible and Invisible: an Expression of Time and Motion

These slats with the images on them are perpendicular to the existing polycarbonate panel and a second panel sandwiches the slats between two layers on the windscreens. The images are printed on ¾” thick plexi-glass slats within the windscreens of the station. Along the handrails the images are painted on ¾” aluminum slats that are perpendicular to the path along the railing and open to the air. They will have an anti-graffiti coating to protect them. We can see between the slats to storefronts; users within the station are able to see out and are highly visible to others. The transparency and airy openness of the current station design is respected.

Those traveling along the road see these stations obliquely so it is from this side angle that the images become visible. Celebration is about the experience of motion and the transience of our existence so the images are fractured like memories, glimpsed briefly before they disappear only to reappear as we look back over our shoulder. The short-lived nature of moments of celebration and joy is expressed in the ephemeral experience of images that flick in and out of view. The suggestion of time and its passage is on a deeper level how Celebration speaks of the past and the future.

Luminous at Night

There are tiny strips of LED lighting at the top and bottom of each acrylic slat illuminating the image and the frosted edges of acrylic so the station is a beacon of light and color at night creating a welcoming shelter of safety. These commonly used LED’s require almost no maintenance, last for decades and consume very little electricity. Their programming would be linked to existing electronic systems within the station related to bus arrival schedules and could either replace or supplement and planned lighting.

We are aware that artists were discouraged from having any electronic component, however we felt this cost effective and beautiful way to make the station safe and luminous speaks to the very heart of what the committee has asked us to do: Celebrate the Future by embodying the concept that this BRT system is state of the art, exciting and innovative.

Celebration is meant to have a changing presence during the day and night and to give an identity of high visibility and excitement, however if the committee is strongly against having any programmed LED lighting, we feel the project remains complete without integrated illumination.

Vandalism, Durability, Maintenance and Cost

We have produced a full-scale mockup of a section of the illuminated windscreen slats (which we will present at the artist interview). In producing this mockup we have learned of the costs related to the fabrication of this system including the lighting component and are reassured that this is very doable within the budget. By having a second polycarbonate panel that encloses the acrylic slats within the 3” depth of the vertical structural members of the station, these images and the slats are protected from vandalism and the elements.

The final images would be coated with a clear UV filter coating after printing. This greatly extends the lifetime of the colors and given the fact that there is direct sunlight on these images only for brief periods each day they are not exposed to the fading that a printed image in full sun would be. For the Sun Metro new rapid bus transit system in El Paso, we are using this system on aluminum on 20 transit stations and it has been judged of a similar durability as the painting systems on cars. The aluminum slats by the railing in all the stations will be powder-coated and baked at high temperature before printing with UV cured ink and then a UV filter clear coat is applied and baked into the surface before the final application of an anti-graffiti coating. This anti-graffiti product allows for the wiping off of spray paint with alcohol. Due to the fractured surfaces in the artwork of Celebration there is not the blank of expanses of surface that is the tempting for graffiti artists to deface.

Community Involvement

A crucial component for this project is the dialogue with the community. We want to meet with those within the community who want to be involved and would hope to meet with the graffiti artists who have done the impressive murals throughout the area so that they might be involved and take ownership of this project as part of their world. While for this presentation we chose some images of different cultural celebrations, these images are placeholders until we could through consultation present a variety of concepts and images for approval and suggestions. We will be learning from the community about what matters to them and how they celebrate.

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Celebrate, in progress description
© Catherine Widgery