Designed by San Francisco-based artist Topher Delaney, NEMA’s public art plaza, named “Promised Land” for its meditative spirit, is layered with cartography-inspired artwork, monumental stone sculptures, and greenery indigenous to Northern California. The plaza, located at 10th and Market Streets, brings California’s natural landscape into the urban context and creates room to breathe in the midst of the city hustle.
Within the plaza, two vector-shaped pathways, made from granite sourced from Northern California’s Raymond and Academy Black quarries, are etched with stylized versions of the California coastline and the Sacramento River that direct us through the cartography of geologies which have created the extraordinary city of San Francisco.
Position yourself in the intersection of the two grids on the circle and you will see the graphic "YOU ARE HERE". Here, you are standing on the exact position of NEMA built at 10th & Market within the map of San Francisco. Concrete paving surrounding the pathways is etched with the grid of streets that connects NEMA to nearby neighborhoods.
The Whispering Sculpture, crafted from two 20-foot-high monumental blocks of stone, invites people to face and interact with geology. A person who faces one stone and whispers to it will be heard by another person facing the second stone.
A regional species of the Aspen tree is planted throughout the plaza and down 10th Street, creating a green corridor to NEMA’s North Tower entrance. There, a third etched granite pathway guides residents and visitors from the curb through the lobby doors and up to the sculpted granite concierge desk, connecting public to private, outdoors to indoors, nature to culture.
Conceiving NEMA as a receptacle for living, Topher Delaney has also designed an intricate pattern inspired by traditional Japanese baskets for the façade of the South Tower.
Tightly woven into precise geometric patterns, yet softened by arcs and curves, hand-woven Japanese baskets convey strength tempered by humanity. Delaney’s interpretation for the façade renders these subtleties on a grand scale, taking into account the shapes and visual rhythm of NEMA’s tower architecture and its relationship to surrounding buildings. Visible from the public art plaza, the canted planes of the textured façade create gentle shadows that shift throughout the day and from season to season.
ARTIST BIO Topher Delaney’s 30-year career as an environmental artist and builder has encompassed a wide breadth of projects that focus on the exploration of seminal interpretations of landscape architecture, site installation and public art. Her practice, SEAM Studio, has evolved from a landscape contracting corporation into an atelier that serves as a venue for the investigation of cultural, social and environmental projects “seamed” together to form dynamic physical installations. Rather than subscribing to typological categorization, Delaney’s projects place an emphasis on the integration of physical form with a narrative that references the currency of a site’s unique historical, cultural, physical, and environmental profiles. The text of the terrain is evidenced in the structure of these narratives, crafted by technical skill and quality of materials to create a site that will be read and interpreted by the general public.