By Amy Ress
Public Architecture is proud to release Lights on Market Street: A Case Study on Arts and Cultural Revitalization Initiatives. As a partner of the San Francisco Arts Commission to realize Lights on Market Street, we offer this resource to artists, designers, and other city agencies and their partners as they consider or embark on comparable arts and culture initiatives.
Launched in December 2010, Lights on Market Street was a temporary public art initiative produced as an effort to help revitalize San Francisco’s Mid-Market district. It featured commissioned light and technology-based installations by Paul Notzold, Theodore Watson, and Jim Campbell. Lights on Market Street was part of The ARTery Project, a larger incubatory twelve-month, arts-focused revitalization strategy funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative, which aimed to transform neighborhoods through the arts.
Historically, Mid-Market was home to a thriving and fashionable theater arts district. Most of the old-time theaters have since closed, but a handful, like The Orpheum and The Warfield, are a reminder of Mid-Market’s former glory. In the late 1960s, the neighborhood was transformed with the introduction of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which brought a world-class underground transit system to San Francisco’s main street. But Market Street businesses—already pained by the exodus of city dwellers to the outlaying Bay Area suburbs—suffered through the long construction process. The challenges continue today, with most San Franciscans identifying Mid-Market by its persistent social and economic struggles. Yet there is growing optimism that a groundswell of public and private efforts is beginning to create real and lasting change. The collective hope is to reestablish the area as a premier arts and cultural district. A number of arts organizations and technology companies are now choosing the district as their home.
This report focuses on the context, collaborators, and outcomes surrounding the three large-scale public light installations that anchor the Lights on Market Street program. It includes historic assessment, precedents, and project analysis. These components help provide a comprehensive view of the process and partnerships it takes to realize an initiative like Lights on Market Street.
To view and download the report, click here.
To view the four-part videocast produced by Public Architecture on the projects, click here.