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.

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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.

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Top Rated Comments

rdlink Avatar
145 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...
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
145 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:
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RedTomato Avatar
145 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.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
samcraig Avatar
145 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.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
145 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.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pietro25 Avatar
145 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.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)