David Baker Architects

ART FOR ALL

Inside the Art at Foundry Commons


See all Blog

ART FOR ALL: Use artwork to invigorate common spaces, help with way-finding, and create a strong visual identity.
9 Ways to Build Community with Urban Housing

 

 

 

Foundry Commons is located in San Jose’s growing arts district. The large housing development—238 homes—features a gallery space and a DIY maker room. DBA_Inside worked with the architectural team to plan the configuration and flow of the indoor spaces. In addition to designing the physical spaces for these creative programs, we felt it was important to weave this arts-oriented narrative into the finishes and furnishings throughout all of the common spaces as well. CityView, the project developer, fully supported this mission and was open to all of our ideas and direction.

First, we closely considered the uses of each space and how we felt residents, guests, and staff would interact. This study helped us identify locations for artwork, as well as the goals we had for each piece and place. Based on a combination of budget, timeframe, site specifics, and the overarching aesthetic of the project, we made an art plan that include three types of works: commissioned pieces, existing pieces selected for purchase, and custom graphic wall-coverings that would anchor the spaces.

Dimensional steel sculpture by Isaac S. Lewin. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Dimensional steel sculpture by Isaac S. Lewin. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Right away we knew that we wanted to use work by artist Isaac S. Lewin in the project. We first saw Isaac’s art at an exhibit at the SOMA gallery and event space 111 Minna. We purchased a graphic three-dimensional piece to hang in the DBA office, then contacted Isaac to commission original works for the Foundry Commons. Isaac's sculptures are composed of raw steel rods, welded into three-dimensional drawings, and the combination of industrial grit and grace in his pieces made them perfectly suited for the Foundry building. As it turns out, Isaac is a local San Jose artist and his studio is just down the street from this project.

Isaac was particularly excited to create a large-scale piece for the 20-foot wall and open air-space above the resident mailboxes. He created a second custom piece for us that was a little bit trickier: The sculpture for a lobby wall had architectural code requirements that he was not used to accommodating, such as restricting the depth to four inches. This second piece took on more of a typographic/graffiti quality, influenced by other media and works he has created, and was particularly successful as its form appears to shift and change as you move past it.

Woven trio by Pilar Agüero-Esparza. Image: Michelle Park Photography

The Foundry Commons is located directly across the street from Citadel Art Studios. We spent time visiting Citadel galleries, neighboring San Jose State University, the South First Fridays Art Walk, and—of course—the internet. We discovered immense local talent and curated a selection of existing pieces for display at Foundry Commons.

For the property manager’s office, which is visible to the leasing area, we chose work by Pilar Aguero-Esparza. Pilar’s three pieces of woven leather and graphite beautifully express handmade craftsmanship and reflect her material inspiration drawn from woven leather shoes.

"Far Away From Me" by Kyoko Fischer. Image: Michelle Park Photography

After seeing the rich, abstract oil paintings of Kyoko Fischer, we looked for one of her works for a prime spot in the Library Loft. A quiet reading area above the main lounge, this space was going to be anchored by one of the graphic wall-coverings. We selected “Far Away From Me”, which has beautiful colors that harmonize with and complement the wall-covering.

"Far Away From Me" by Kyoko Fischer in the Library Loft. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Detail from "The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman.

"The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman. Image: Michelle Park Photography

The Social Commons, a large space with 16-foot ceilings, needed a large and impactful original piece. We selected Christopher Elliman’s “The Thread of Life”—a 6-foot-square multimedia sculpture—from photographs of the piece. When we saw the piece in person, we were thrilled to see that the details of nails, string, and paper were even more mesmerizing than we had expected. Coincidentally, Christopher had also been a part of the community engagement process for Art Ark, nearby artist-oriented affordable housing designed by DBA in 2007. It was great to have his continued engagement in our work.

"The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman. Image: Christopher Elliman

Artwork by Creativity Explored artist Ana Maria Vidalon, printed by Designtex. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Original artwork by Creativity Explored artist Ana Maria Vidalon.

In addition to the original artwork, we proposed two large, custom wallcoverings. We drew on our strong relationship of Creativity Explored, a San Francisco gallery and studio for artists with developmental disabilities, to identify and license artwork that would be effective at a scale larger than anything we had done before. This approach allows us to support the artists and local art nonprofit and to afford expansive pieces.

We featured a dramatic 30x7-foot enlargement of artwork by Ana Maria Vidalon in the Library Loft, and another monumental 21x12-foot piece by Hung Kei Shiu in the Social Commons. We worked with Designtex Bespoke to fabricate and install the wall-coverings, which have a great impact on the spaces. We could not be happier with how they turned out. 

Artwork by Creativity Explored artist Hung Kei Shiu, printed by Designtex. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Original piece by Creativity Explored artist Hung Kei Shiu.

Julie de Jesus AIA (right) leads DBA_Inside, our interiors studio. You can contact Julie at interiors@dbarchitect.com.

Our process of curating the art program at Foundry Commons allowed us to make connections in the neighborhood, support local artists and organizations, and to create lively and authentic shared spaces throughout the building that contribute to a strong sense of place.

You can see more of the inside spaces at Foundry Commons here

Dimensional steel sculpture by Isaac S. Lewin. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Dimensional steel sculpture by Isaac S. Lewin. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Dimensional steel sculpture by Isaac S. Lewin. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Woven trio by Pilar Agüero-Esparza. Image: Michelle Park Photography

"Far Away From Me" by Kyoko Fischer. Image: Michelle Park Photography

"Far Away From Me" by Kyoko Fischer in the Library Loft. Image: Michelle Park Photography

"The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman. Image: Michelle Park Photography

"The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman. Image: Christopher Elliman

Detail from "The Thread of Life: Virtue and Vice" by Christopher Elliman.

Artwork by Creativity Explored artist Hung Kei Shiu, printed by Designtex. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Original piece by Creativity Explored artist Hung Kei Shiu.

Artwork by Creativity Explored artist Ana Maria Vidalon, printed by Designtex. Image: Michelle Park Photography

Original artwork by Creativity Explored artist Ana Maria Vidalon.