Functional and Fantasy Stair and Cyclone Fragment


I was up on the sixth floor of the San Francisco Public Library to check out the BookWorks exhibit, and then noticed a sculpturey thing which turned out to also be a staircase that led down to the fifth floor reading room. Great shapes, echoing other elements in the building, as well as the stairs themselves and the shapes of books. Really neat with all the different vantage points you can get from above and below and on it. Being there in late afternoon the light was awesome and there were also cool reflections in the adjacent windows.


A companion piece, by the same artist, Alice Aycock, hangs in an adjacent space. It has similar shapes and rhythms to it, although you cannot interact with it in the same way as the stairs. (“Just” art/non-functional.)


The library’s website has this to say: (it’s always interesting to read after the fact what something is “supposed” to be about)


Alice Aycock has designed a spiral stairway between the fifth and sixth floors of the suspended, glass-enclosed reading room that projects into the library’s great atrium space. The staircase wraps around a cone tipped at an angle, and as the two-story cone appears to unravel, it sheds fragments of false or imaginary stairs. The conical composition echoes the structure of a nearby atrium skylight. The cone, in fact, is an inversion of the skylight.


A second element, the Cyclone fragment, is suspended in the adjacent atrium and functions as a ghost projection of the spiral stair. If the stairs suggest knowledge unfolding, the Cyclone symbolizes knowledge in its most dynamic and transitional state. For the artist, her work in the library is the culmination of years of ongoing dialogue with the architect James Ingo Freed.


I haven’t done much 3D work, certainly nothing large/architectural scale, so this sort of thing always fascinates me. How do people conceive of such things? And then I always wonder how they actually get made and installed. And if something is not for a specific site like these were, then how does an artist deal with that?


lots more pictures

This entry was posted in art, libraries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Functional and Fantasy Stair and Cyclone Fragment

  1. Pingback: San Francisco Public Library – Main Library | 2m2t

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s