Archive for 2010

The Rocketship featured on the cover of the SF Chronicle’s Datebook section.

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Positive changes around S.F. and environs in 2010

John King

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Laura Morton / Special to The Chronicle

The “Raygun Gothic Rocketship,” a retro-themed sculpture, was installed at Pier 14 in San Francisco in August.

The odd extremes of 2010 come down to this: Within 24 hours, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and the flat-earth movement captured Washington, D.C.

And when we narrow our focus to Bay Area architects, I’d be hard-pressed to name the 10 best buildings of the year – or even 10 major structures that got built.

On the bright side? The year saw neighborhood-scaled planning that teases us with the promise of sustainable, transit-friendly urbanity. Long-overdue infrastructure projects finally started construction, such as the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel and the reinvention of Doyle Drive.

Last, but adamantly not least, San Francisco and environs saw positive changes we can touch and experience, not just read about. Here are 10, in no particular order:

Bootstrap urbanity: My name for the ingenious efforts by architects and public space advocates to carve eddies in the urban swirl – from the “parklets” concept that is replacing parking spaces with bits of seating to more ambitious efforts where awkward intersections are being converted to “temporary” landscaped plazas. Aesthetically, some work better than others, but San Francisco’s lucky to have such experimentation in its midst.

San Francisco transit shelters: Naysayers carp that on rainy, windy days, these shelters are no shelters at all, because they include wide openings on the back to allow easy access for people in wheelchairs. With 100 shelters now sprinkled across the landscape, in seven site-specific permutations by Lundberg Design, what I see is a rippling treat, roofs of red and orange that add grace to our urban terrain.

One Hawthorne: When (if?) construction cranes again appear on the downtown horizon, let’s hope they spawn new towers as neighborly as this 24-story residential high-rise designed by EHDD Architecture. It’s a too-snug fit for the site, but the clean modernity is right at home near Yerba Buena Gardens.

H2 Hotel: At a time when so much infill development is tawdry skin-deep mockitecture, this five-story inn near Healdsburg’s central plaza shows how to do it right. David Baker + Partners crafted a building at once contemporary and contextual, so keyed to its location that on warm Wine Country days, the ground-floor walls fold up and disappear.

Potrero Branch Library: San Francisco’s Bureau of Architecture worked wonders with a mid-block library on Potrero Hill from 1951, turning the dilapidated structure into a glassy beacon of literacy – including panoramic walls at the rear that showcase the city beyond. Bureaucracy at its best.

“Raygun Gothic Rocketship”: My plebian idea of triumphant public art is something engaging and brash, a charmed surprise up close and from afar. Bonus points for the local angle: This 40-foot-tall stainless steel whim will be on display along the Embarcadero through next fall, thanks to the Black Rock Arts Foundation of Burning Man fame.

Oakland Museum of California: Kevin Roche’s understated collage of right-angled concrete was brought into the 21st century by Mark Cavagnero Associates. The changes exude a disciplined order, such as a crisp new canopy at the Oak Street entrance, but they also make space for Job One: the enticing display of art.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory: The year’s most ingenious building addition can’t be seen from the street; instead, a high school at the base of immense St. Mary’s Cathedral filled a courtyard with a concrete-walled theater, its scalloped form taking cues from the icon that Herb Caen often likened to a washing machine. Case + Abst Architects.

Gallery House: I tend to ignore private homes, but this three-story insert is on the uber-public South Park. It’s also a tutorial by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects in experimental design with opaque glass along the street and two black voids above, screened by a web-like abstraction of weathered steel rods. A focused provocation that earns your double-take.

Robert I. Schroder Overcrossing: In today’s “crabbed and fearful” America – thank you, Jon Carroll – any government expenditure beyond pothole repairs is scorned as a debt-inducting frill. But with this metallic footbridge that leaps across Treat Boulevard near the Pleasant Hill BART Station, engineer Arup and architect Donald Macdonald show that our society can still create public works of lasting merit, worthy of pride, if only we try.

This article appeared on page E – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more:

The Raygun Gothic Rocketship featured in the San Jose Mercury News “The Year in Photographs”

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Mercury News photojournalists make images every day of the year. The images don’t always come from a breaking news or sporting event – they may be portraits of interesting people, “moments” that connect with the reader, or simply something out of the ordinary. In 2010, our photojournalists captured thousands of images: These are among their favorites.

Click Here for the Slide Show

Raygun Gothic Rocketship Inspirations

Monday, August 30th, 2010

We create these large-scale immersion based installations in part because we hope, in some small way, to inspire people to create, dream and invent… to help generate a little spark of the imagination and to grease the wheels of ingenuity. The Raygun Gothic Rocketship is a symbol of a future that never happened, and idea that we had hoped would resonate with both the young and old.

On August 20th, we received the following request for any plans or sketches of the rocketship that we would be willing to share.

I am thinking of trying to build a small wooden (six foot tall) version with
my 11 year old to teach him about construction.
Are there any plans or dimensional specs that could give us a start on
planning.  We could scale accordingly.

Phil Battat

We were intrigued… so we sent Phil and his son the following plans:

Well… Phil and his son Andrew have been busy and it is now my turn to be impressed and inspired.

We received an email from Phil today with a photo of their little RGR inspired “project”. This father and son team studied our blueprints and re-created our 40′ tall steel and aluminum retro- futuristic  rocketship… out of wood… in only ten days!

Nice work Phil and Andrew! Cool lookin rocketship ya got there…

Thank you… I am truly humbled…

-Sean Orlando

Yuri’s Night 2010

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Yuri’s Night 2010 Final from WHAT MATTERS MOST on Vimeo.

Great little video montage by “The Other Martin Taylor”

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Th Raygun Gothic Rocketship installation at Pier 14 in San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom Unveils Monumental Raygun Gothic Rocketship Sculpture

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

See the full post on the official SF Gov Site

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today joined the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and the Port of San Francisco to celebrate the unveiling of Raygun Gothic Rocketship, a 40-foot-tall sculpture created by a team of Bay Area artists lead by Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor, and David Shulman. The Rocketship, poised as if to board passengers for a typical run to a nearby stellar destination, will remain at the Pier 14 Tidal Plaza, at the base of Mission Street, on the Embarcadero for a 14-month temporary exhibition.

The 40-foot-tall artwork offers a retro-futuristic, highly-stylized vision of space travel circa 1930’s-1940’s science fiction and is the latest in a series of temporary public art exhibitions sponsored by BRAF to enliven and activate public spaces. The sculpture will be accompanied by a companion piece, the Rocket Stop designed by Alan Rorie, which tells the story of the Rocketship’s exploits, providing route, schedule and other information. The installation will be illuminated for nighttime viewing.

“We are very proud to have the work of local artists of this caliber represented along San Francisco’s iconic waterfront,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Sean, Nathaniel, and David’s Raygun Gothic Rocketship is an important piece of our City’s strong temporary public art program that adds an important vibrancy and a vitality to our public spaces.”

“We at the Port are charged with creating opportunities for residents and visitors alike to connect with San Francisco’s spectacular waterfront,” said Port Executive Director Monique Moyer. “As the third in a series of large-scale sculptures to be installed temporarily at Pier 14, we are confident that this compelling piece will engage people and enhance their experience of the area. Pier 14 provides a fitting and fantastic backdrop for this whimsical work of art.”

To find out more about this project visit:

Photograph by Steve Rhodes from flickr

Rocketship in Civic Center Blog

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

A nice write-up of the installation, with some great day-time photos.

You can see it here!

San Francisco Sentinel Write Up

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

You can get a nice write up and some good photos of the ship HERE.

KTVU Video Report on Rocketship Opening

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

You can check it out here!

ABC News Report – Tuesday Night Install

Saturday, August 7th, 2010