Friday, October 9, 2009

Bayview's new library on hold?

Artist Jacques Overhoff's signature on the wall of the existing building.

Linda Brooks-Burton, Managing Librarian at the Bayview Branch Library, sends this update:

The Bayview branch is slated to be demolished and rebuilt beginning in January 2010. The new library will be a larger state of the art “green“ branch which the community is very excited about. During the closure we will have interim services at the YMCA on Lane Street.

We are now encountering an obstacle that might push the closure date further back or possibly halt the project altogether. The sculpture that is imbedded in the outer brick wall of the current building has come into question. Two of the original architects for the building and the artist have requested a hearing with the San Francisco Arts Commission to see if they can either have the sculpture worked into the design of the new building or stop the rebuild altogether.

For the past year, the library, the community and the architects assigned to the new building project have been working on a design for our new library, a design that is 95% completed. We have had community meetings over this past year, at which the artwork was never brought up as an issue.

It would be great to preserve this piece of art and possibly move it to an alternate space like the Hunters Point Shipyard. But, if one of the architects of the existing building cannot stop the construction of a new library, he wants that new structure built around the sculpture so that the sculpture would not have to be moved. This, of course, does not fit in with the new design that we have been working on.

The hearing is scheduled for 3pm on Wednesday, October 21st at the Arts Commission located at 25 Van Ness. The Bayview Branch is requesting community members show up at the hearing to voice concern over what seems to be a concerted effort by the artist and architects to impede the Bayview library’s rebuild process.

photo credit: Betcher


Chris Foster said...

As a resident of BVHP for 9 years, I have come to appreciate having the library right down at the bottom of my block. I am looking forward to having a new and improved library that speaks to the neighborhood with a 21st century voice. I think the new design will complement the changes that we have already seen on the 3rd Street corridor and will further energize the neighborhood in a positive direction.

Having said that, I also believe that it is important to recognize and remember the history of the neighborhood, of which Overhoff's sculpture is an expression. I think that it is regrettable that the desire to preserve the sculpture was not expressed earlier in the public hearings, but at this point that is water under the bridge. I believe there needs to be a creative brainstorm, albeit at the 11th hour before demolition has been slated to begin, to find a way to preserve the sculpture onsite.

As my contribution, I offer this "off the wall" suggestion: Use the wall as a floor in the new building. I am a builder, so I know all too well that there would be challenges in executing such a plan, but I believe it might be accomplished with less effort than it might take to relocate the wall offsite. Furthermore, it would be consistent with the "green" approach to the current design in that it would be a significant re-use of existing materials, materials that are onsite and come with no additional carbon footprint. Obviously, there would have to be some thought given to how to create a safe, durable, walkable surface, but I believe that is within the realm of possibility.

Anonymous said...

We use this branch often, since I work at two Bayview schools. I was at the design meeting when the options were voted on. I asked about recycling some of the brick and was told by the architects that as much of the building materials would be sent for re-use (not necessarily in the new library as possible) Only one cwoman, at the very end, asked about the wall sculture in a "it would be nice if they could keep it" sort of way. No one else referred to it or protested its loss. Where were the artists/architects during this whole building campaign, that has been in the public eye for well over a year?
At a certain point, they lose the right to protest, IMHO.