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San Francisco Mayor to Take Another Look at Apple's Proposed Union Square Store Following Criticism

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Chronicle addressed some criticisms of Apple's proposed flagship store for the city's Union Square retail district, a store that would replace the current flagship a few blocks to the south. While the announcement of Apple's plans several weeks ago had been accompanied by glowing remarks from city politicians, critics have pointed to a long blank wall along Stockton Street and the removal of a popular fountain behind the store as significant issues for the plans.

apple_store_sf_union_square_large
The Chronicle now follows up on the situation, quoting San Francisco mayor Ed Lee as saying that he hadn't realized Apple's plans called for removal of the fountain and reporting that he would be taking another look to see if it could be kept.
"We weren't necessarily focused on that side," Lee said, referring to a plaza along Stockton Street where the fountain stands. "It wasn't part of our discussion." [...]

"I need to take a look and visualize" how the fountain would or would not complement Apple's proposal for a raised narrow plaza between its store and the Grand Hyatt. The hotel tower was built in tandem with the plaza and the retail building in the early 1970s. "We have to see whether it might fit in."
Lee also addressed the issue of the 80 foot-long blank wall along Stockton Street, noting that city officials had raised objections to it during initial discussions and that Apple had been "very receptive" to those concerns. The city places distinct emphasis on activating the street-level experience in the pedestrian-oriented Union Square shopping district, and Apple's plans would create a significant gap in that experience.

The project still needs to proceed through reviews by the city's planning and historic preservation commissions, and it could see tweaks as a result of discussions with those groups. Apple has not commented further on the project, and the Grand Hyatt hotel that owns the property and fountain simply notes that "it's too premature" to address whether there may be changes to the proposal.

Top Rated Comments

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17 months ago
I've been to Union Square many times. That store as drawn up in that rendering would be the best looking thing in the area. Period.

It's one thing to try to blend into historic buildings and architecture. But 1970s architecture is not really something we should be trying to preserve...
Rating: 16 Votes
17 months ago

Politicians being politicians as usual.

I hate them all at this point.


Ah, yes. A proposal is made. The public responds. The proposal is re-evaluated based on the public's concerns. All sides are heard.

Democracy: What a drag!

:rolleyes:
Rating: 13 Votes
17 months ago

This is what all the fuss is about:

Yes, folks, everyone is up in arms over this incredibly ugly fountain. Are they frickin' serious? And the artist who made this fountain should have his or her credentials revoked!




Artists don't have credentials. Maybe in soviet USSR but not in the West. And many artists aren't dependent on the opinions of others.

I, on the other hand, do hold credentials. I'm qualified in explaining art to other people (!) - took a course in being a gallery guide many moons ago - involved researching art works, understanding art theory, preparing talks, working with an audience, public health and safely etc. I worked at the Tate Modern for nearly a year.

Looking at the photograph of the work ... , I've not been nearer than 3000 miles, I'm not going to bother researching who made it ... just looking at the photo:

- it's a large bronze piece with a beautiful aged patina. Rich and highly detailed. You could spend a long time looking at the scenes and still find new detail.
- it's in good condition, no graffiti
- it's at a human scale, which can be rare in public art which tends towards the monumental and inpersonal. America needs more humanity.
- it's highly tactile - you are invited to go up and feel it, it's accessible to children and blind people. Again, this is rare to see in valuable sculpture, which usually has notices saying 'do not touch' around it.
- it's accessible - you can look at it and see houses and other human artefacts - the fountain doesn't require a degree in art theory to understand
- it was built over 40 years ago, which is long enough ago that we can begin to see it in a historical context, as part of the evolution of US culture from the 50's to the 60's to the 70's and later.
- it's handmade and unique. I would be surprised if there is another fountain like this by a different artist.
- it will outlast the Apple store. When the store is gone, the fountain will still be remembered.
- I would guess that the bronze scenes show local views, which have possibly gone. This fountain might be the only record of these views.

With some research, I could tell you about the artist's life, her philosophy, how this fountain reflects these elements, how she created this artwork, why she chose these elements. I could point out the human importance of the various scenes on the walls. Some of them may reflect moments in time, whether good or bad, that she thinks need to be remembered down the ages.

Note: I haven't told you whether it's 'good' or 'bad' art. That's up to you. I've only pointed out some of the stories that lie behind it, some of the things that went into its creation, perhaps helped you to discover some hidden detail that has given you a reflective pause, possibly a reconsideration of your views.
Rating: 10 Votes
17 months ago

Ah, yes. A proposal is made. The public responds. The proposal is re-evaluated based on the public's concerns. All sides are heard.

Democracy: What a drag!

:rolleyes:


QFT

They should just get Apple to build them a new fountain that doesn't look like a melting candle.


You know - if you don't like the fountain - that's one thing. But reducing someone's art the way you have and implying it should be tossed and just replaced is unfortunate commentary.

I think the proposed Apple building would be a great addition to the square. I don't, however think it needs to come at the expense of the fountain. Surely there can be a compromise.
Rating: 9 Votes
17 months ago
Politicians being politicians as usual.

I hate them all at this point.

He's either lying about caring about the fountain or lying not about noticing it's gone, or he's inept. I'd rather have more frank leaders who actually spoke their mind at the risk of offending a few constituents. Just say, "You know what, you're right, it's gone and I didn't notice because I don't care." - it sounds a lot better to me. A few whiners will feel whiney, but that's the way life works.
Rating: 8 Votes
17 months ago



Looking at the photograph of the work ... , I've not been nearer than 3000 miles, I'm not going to bother researching who made it ... just looking at the photo:

- it's a large bronze piece with a beautiful aged patina. Rich and highly detailed. You could spend a long time looking at the scenes and still find new detail.
- it's in good condition, no graffiti
- it's at a human scale, which can be rare in public art which tends towards the monumental and inpersonal. America needs more humanity.
- it's highly tactile - you are invited to go up and feel it, it's accessible to children and blind people. Again, this is rare to see in valuable sculpture, which usually has notices saying 'do not touch' around it.
- it's accessible - you can look at it and see houses and other human artefacts - the fountain doesn't require a degree in art theory to understand
- it was built over 40 years ago, which is long enough ago that we can begin to see it in a historical context, as part of the evolution of US culture from the 50's to the 60's to the 70's and later.
- it's handmade and unique. I would be surprised if there is another fountain like this by a different artist.
- it will outlast the Apple store. When the store is gone, the fountain will still be remembered.
- I would guess that the bronze scenes show local views, which have possibly gone. This fountain might be the only record of these views.


A very thoughtful critique of the artwork. Thanks for that. I challenge the people who so strongly object to it to explain why in this much detail.

You hit on two things that make the fountain so beloved in SF: it is highly tactile and it's handmade. And it does show local views some of which are gone -- which adds to its appeal as a historical record.

You're right -- it will outlast the Apple store. It will also outlast the Apple Corporation.
Rating: 7 Votes
17 months ago
Both of the concerns mentioned in the article seem reasonable.
Rating: 7 Votes
17 months ago
Having an Apple store built in my neighborhood several years back (Chicago north side), I can first hand say this is a hidious piece of archecture. A square building with too much sun-exposed glass that let's the blinding hot sun in most of the day that actually physically makes me dizzy when i walk in there (even the employees complain). From the outside you just too much see bunches of people running around a bland interior on the glass side, and just a stark blank wall on the rest of the building. Not to mention the super bright flourescent lighting streaming out of the windows at night to completely ruin the atmosphere of any surrounding quainter cafe's, outdoor seating areas. This is just visually a horrid design sitting in the middle of a city. It's almost like someone dropped a high school lunchroom cafeteria in the middle of a nice neighborhood. With all of Apple's money, I can't believe they can't conceptually come up with a design that would fit better in a city neighborhood vs a suburban / small town mall, the latter of which building like this was designed for. I love having an Apple store in the city, just not THIS one. I think that's the same point SF is trying to make. Truthfully, I can't imagine why anyone here would defend this design. Jeez...

----------

Like the fact that Apple's store design is being criticized?


Exactly! You'll never get Apple fans to see the other side of this EVER - i.e. that they do exactly what the criticize from the other side. :)
Rating: 7 Votes
17 months ago

It's simple. Take the offer off the table, and build the store in a city that treats businesses well and encourages growth. I understand that you won't pull the same numbers everywhere you go, but as long as you keep building in places like this and paying taxes to the same old anti-business government, you're going to continue receiving the same poor treatment.


Or Apple could address the city's concerns, and end up with a better design.

For all of Apple's great product designs -- they fall short with their architecture. Their spaceship campus is the most glaring example of this.
Rating: 6 Votes
17 months ago

Ah, yes. A proposal is made. The public responds. The proposal is re-evaluated based on the public's concerns. All sides are heard.

Democracy: What a drag!

:rolleyes:


We're not in a democracy though - if we were, we wouldn't have representatives - everything would be decided through extensive polling of all of the people.

We live in a democratic republic where people vote for leaders who are then supposed to make decisions on our behalf. Ideally, there's enough viable candidates that everyone is able to vote for someone who shares much of their same values. We don't have that though - we have a two party system where every representative is either a screwball that takes everything to the extremes or a flip flop that you're not sure what they believe.

From time to time I actually hear candidates that actually have values that aren't at their extremes, but their campaigns always die in the primaries (which thinking about it now... It seems to me the primaries might actually be the key flaw in our system that ensures we always have only two viable candidates...)
Rating: 6 Votes

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