Semper Vigilandum​​​​​​​
Business Objective:  The city of Mountain View was building a new Fire Station No. 5, which would be responsible for Shoreline Park, Shoreline Amphitheatre, and local business (including Google headquarters).
My role:  I was hired as a consulting artist after my proposal was selected out of twenty evaluated by the city’s public art commission. I designed a sculpture and pedestal / fire station sign, commemorative plaque and weathervane to work with the site’s and firefighters’ needs in mind, then partnered with Artworks Foundry to produce the final piece. 
Results:  Firefighters voted for my proposal. San Jose Mercury dedicated a feature article to Semper Vigilandum. At the unveiling, the mayor of the City of Mountain View started his speech by talking about the function of art to inspire and to celebrate the mission of essential workers. 
my proposal was selected by the city’s public art commission
The new Fire Station No. 5 requires public art that will celebrate civic identity and elevate the site.
Public art is staged in the public space, usually outside and accessible to all. It is site specific, created with community involvement and collaboration. The relationship between the content and audience, what the art is saying and to whom, is just as important as its physical location.
The fire station architects had designed the building to meet the needs of the firefighters - complete with sleeping quarters and fire pole. A common problem that comes up with public art projects is that public art is often an afterthought. The buildings are designed without giving art an important place to celebrate civic identity. I wanted a design that integrated the art with the fire station and the mission of the firefighters.
Site Evaluation Image
Firefighting is not just a job. It’s a calling.
The city of Mountain View had invited 200 artists to submit public art proposals for a new fire station. Twenty professional proposals were evaluated by the City, the art commission, community and the firefighters. My strategy was to pitch a story that would connect with the target audience— the firefighters.
“Firefighting is not just a job. It’s a calling.” This was the key insight from my interviews with the Station No. 5 firefighters. I wanted to understand their daily life and what was important to them. They told me about what it was like to live at the station, how hard they worked to always be prepared for anything at a moment’s notice, how much it meant for them to serve their community and how seriously they took their work. From these conversations with the firefighters it became clear that the public art piece needed to be a symbol that would represent their aspirations, their sense of honor and tradition.​​​​​​​
key insight:  “Firefighting is not just a job. It’s a calling.”
Semper Vigilandum tells a story of ancient heroes, a local nature preserve, and a public service heritage.​​​​​​​

Fire Station No. 5 was built right next to Shoreline Park, and I wanted to connect the park with the fire station’s mission to serve its local community. I live in Mountain View, and Shoreline Park is my favorite hiking place. 
I spent weeks observing Canada Geese
ELEVATING THE CANADA GOOSE TO A SYMBOL OF PUBLIC SERVICE: Before setting to work on my sculpture, I spent weeks observing geese along the path that winds past Shoreline Lake to the golf course. Sometimes, at sunset, the geese fly low, within a few feet over my head. I hear the sound of their wings, feel the effort and see the individual feathers on their bodies. You can almost touch them.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
STORY that resonates with local community & inspires imagination
A STORY FROM WAY BACK IN HISTORY:  I had to look way back in history to find a story that would fit my concept. In 390 BCE, according to ancient legend, the sacred geese of Juno used their cacophonous honks to warn the sleeping Romans that the Gauls were on the attack. Ever since, geese have been immortalized in Roman tradition as vigilant protectors. In their honor, I named the proposal “Semper Vigilandum,” Latin for “Ever Vigilant.”
the anatomy of a story
Storytelling in Design:  Our audience wants to identify with the hero of the story. We start by defining the hero's goals, journey and then visualize step-by-step how they'll overcome their challenges
A sign, a sculpture, a plaque, a bell, and a weathervane: five pieces come together in one.
DESIGNED FOR THE PLACE:  Semper Vigilandum connects the fire station’s point of entry with the station’s highest point on top of the tower. It was important for me to consider technical constraints like structural engineering and view obstruction while developing the design.
Structural integrity was an important consideration, as a bronze sculpture would be large and heavy and it was vital that the sculpture not fall over in a strong wind. A plaque explaining the sculpture would be included. 
Artworks foundry brings 1,000 pounds of bronze to life.
The city’s public art committee knew that I was a new sculptor and they paid close attention to the execution of the project. Artworks Foundry was a critical partner in helping to complete production while meeting structural and public safety requirements (the sculpture needed to be able to withstand hurricane force winds and vandalism, among other things).
A CLOSE COLLABORATION:  It was an honor to work with the master technicians at the foundry who worked on ambitious projects and had a wealth of experience. They were wonderful collaborators and I learned a lot from them about the lost wax casting process, structural engineering, finishing and installation, and how to create art that works in the public space. 
UNVEILING:  The sculpture was unveiled by the mayor in front of a large crowd of citizens, firefighters and city officials. San Jose Mercury wrote a feature article about me and the public art piece. The fire station won an award for architecture and the Semper Vigilandum project was part of the success.
Foundry workers and collaborators
pouring bronze:  lost wax casting
Unveiling final sculpture
1. EVALUATE:  Talk to all stakeholders including city officials, architects, and firefighters to understand their goals and challenges. Examine the site of the future fire station to identify opportunities for public art.
2. PLAN:  Develop different concepts for a story to test with the target customers. Collaborate with architects to ensure the selected proposal integrates well with the building and landscape.
3. EXECUTE:  Design components that work together as a system (pedestal, sculpture, bell, plaque, and weathervane) to help bring the story to life. Test against aesthetic and structural requirements. Work with foundry experts to craft the final product.
Takeaway: Start with the big picture
A lesson I learned doing a public art project that I think applies well to design. Talking to master craftsman at the Artworks foundry I learned that making a statue people focus on the small details. If you don’t think about it as a large unit that people see from far away you’re not gonna have something that works.
Story Framing
In preparation for casting the bronze I had a conversation with this guy. He was my mentor at the foundry. He pointed out this, common misconception by sculptors 
And I think this really sums up the essence of how to design this kind of outdoor project. And I believe it applies to any type of design project. and this is the function of the story in design.
The case study is about the design and storytelling. And public art has to work in its context and with the intended target audience.
Once you figure it out, the details have to support it and because of that here are the deliverables that in the end all work well together.
Semper Vigilandum is a public art project and its success is due in part to design principles and design process. The story was developed in direct relationship with first responders-people who are so important to us. The project elevates the site(integrates with the existing ecosystem) and resonates with the audience(target customer) and celebrates civic identity(branding). As a citizen, I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction to make a difference on the local level, in a place that matters to me. 
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