There isn’t much to look at around Treasure Island’s historic Administration Building -- just a parking lot and a snack shop. But the parking lot at one of the man-made island’s few legacy buildings is about to be transformed.
Developers and San Francisco officials plan to open a landscaped plaza there in early 2020, at the center of which will stand a major work of public art. The piece will be among the first of an estimated $50 million in art projects to be commissioned for Treasure and Yerba Buena islands over the next two decades.
The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) votes tomorrow on a master plan to allocate that money. The plan includes temporary and permanent installations, artists’ residencies and a recurring "treasure hunt" in which guests will search for temporary works by local and international artists using a map.
The art is part of a multibillion-dollar development plan for Treasure Island that includes 8,000 units of housing, 300 acres of parks, a ferry terminal and one of the world's largest investments in public art.
The city of San Francisco has a mandate requiring all development projects of this nature to set aside 1 percent of their budgets for public art. The San Francisco Art Commission (SFAC), which is overseeing the implementation of the art on Treasure Island, approved the master plan in early June.
Jill Manton, SFAC's director of Public Art Trust and Special Initiatives, says she hopes to commission work from artists working in a wide variety of media.
"I envision a program that is diverse and dynamic, from traditional or monumental free-standing sculpture, to performance and light projections that might be created specifically for the island," Manton says.
First in line for funding are three permanent installations, one along the island’s western edge, another at the top of the hill on Yerba Buena Island, and a third in front of the Administration Building.
Each work will adorn a newly designed public park. The developers hope to build a permanent public art collection for the island.
“I want a known artist, and a monumental piece that will say, ‘This is of stature,’” says Chris Meany of Treasure Island Community Development, LLC (TICD), the joint venture of private developers undertaking construction on the island.
These first pieces will likely be sculptures, and SFAC expects to send out a call for artists in the coming weeks. San Francisco and Treasure Island residents will be invited to review and provide input on the final proposals in early 2018.
“Public art is not always the result of popular opinion," Manton says. "But we want the public to have the right to be heard." A selection panel of art experts and TIDA will make the final decision.
Each project will have a budget between $1 million and $2 million, and Manton hopes to draw top artists from all over the world. She says future projects will specifically welcome local artists with studios on the island.
Update, 12:34 p.m. Thursday, June 15: On June 14th, the Treasure Island Development Authority and San Francisco Arts Commission unanimously approved the $50 million allocation.