Artist Collaboration: Jesse Schlesinger

Winning Entry

In 2017, the San Francisco Arts Commission held a competition inviting artists to design site-specific seating for the new N-Judah Gateway Plaza in the Outer Sunset district in San Francisco. This ocean side plaza will be at the terminus of one of the city’s busiest metro lines and activate a space that will be a gateway to the ocean.

Jesse Schlesinger was chosen as the winning artist and Jesse has asked Concreteworks to be the fabrication partner. A San Francisco based artist, Jesse’s work is based in a variety of physical mediums and spans installation, sculpture and drawing. His work has been exhibited at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and he has been an Artist-in-Residence at the renowned Headlands Center for the Arts.

 

The Great Sand Bank

During the city’s wild origins, this area was mostly undeveloped wilderness. Some referring to it as the “Great Sand Bank” or just the “Outerlands.” Today the city’s boundary stretches to just shy of the Pacific Ocean leaving very little evidence of it’s once untamed past.

From Jesse’s competition entry:

“The two primary formal elements of the work are the square and the circle. The square represents the existing grid/order and the circle represents the natural elements of ocean, sand, fog and wind that maintain the district’s sense of wildness. The collection of sculpted objects and natural forms also draws reference to the common instinct to walk the beach and look for shells, driftwood, bits deposited by the ocean.

The materials for the blocks will be concrete, salvaged old growth redwood for the seat, and bronze and salvaged burl wood for the sculptural elements. Some of the concrete blocks will exist solely as sculpture, some as seat bases, and some as sculpture bases. The colors of the work are determined by the materials: grays, browns, and bronze. These are natural tones that fit the neighborhood and materials that will patina and weather well: again symbolic of the conversation between the city district that has extended to its natural borders, and the way those natural elements continue to inform its way of life.”

For more information please visit the SF Arts Commissions website.

Collaborations

We look forward to adding this project to our long history of working with renowned artists from the Bay Area and around the world. One our very first projects was to fabricate intricate friezes for the exterior of a PG&E facility in Emeryville, which is still installed today. Since that early commission, public art has been in the DNA of our company.

From highly sculptural barnacle seating on the Embarcadero in San Francisco to bold graphic symbols embedded into bus stations throughout San Jose, we have always been interested in realizing complex and sometimes seemingly impossible ideas. Below is a selection of the public art commissions we have created over the years.

PG&E Emeryville

 

San Jose Bus Station Pavers

 

Pier 9 Barnacles

Partners in Innovation | Pacific Desk

"We see the Concreteworks Lab as the place where we have the opportunities to innovate, to really make sure that the design intent is achieved and to provide value to the client." – Mark Rogero

Studio O+A is a multi-disciplinary design studio based in San Francisco focusing on designing experiences around brand identity and workplace design. They are one of our long-time collaborators and have brought us many challenging projects from our first Lab project — the Jessie Street Desk — to this one. Watch the video below to learn more about the process behind this project.

Concreteworks Pacific Desk Project from One Hundred Seconds on Vimeo.

Click the images below to see other Lab project collaborations with Studio O+A and Andrew Kudless of MATSYS design

 

Salone del Mobile 2017 | Airplane Mode

Every now and then we get a project that doesn't fit into what we do on daily basis, whether because of scale, scope or timeline, but which intrigues us too much to pass up. This was one of those projects. Josh Morenstein and Nick Cronan of Branch were asked by Wallpaper* Magazine to create an object in a material they've never worked in and with a collaborator they've never met.

The brief was to create and object around a daily practice or ritual. Given that we are based in the Bay Area, hub of all things technological, it was natural that Nick and Josh chose to design a piece around our daily use of smartphones. The Airplane Mode box is designed as a way to disconnect from the virtual to give us the chance to reconnect with the real. When the phone is in the box it fails to receive signals and because of the material's density it muffles any sound or vibration allowing complete separation from the technology. The weight also gives the ritual more import and literal gravity to the act of shutting away for the day.

The piece was exhibited at Wallpaper* Magazine's Holy Handmade Exhibition at Salone del Mobile 2017 in Milan. We're thrilled that Nick and Josh thought of us for this unique opportunity. We're always looking for ways to take our material to new extremes and modes.

Images courtesy of Branch

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The First 25 Years

We've come a long way since Mark cast that first countertop in that Emeryville studio. This year we’re going to be digging into the archives to share stories, photos and projects from the first 25 years of our history as well as bring you stories about the history we’re making today. 

Here's a brief look at some moments in first 25 years of Concreteworks history.

 

Concreteworks Catalog

We released a catalog for the first time earlier this year and we've just printed an update.

If you're interested in getting a physical copy, send us an email at [email protected] with "Catalog Request" in the subject line.

Limit 1 per request per person. Only while supplies last.

Click here for a digital copy.

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Case Study | The Cistern

We are often asked to do the impossible. So when Meyer + Silberberg Land Architects approached us with a project that was larger than any single piece we had ever cast, heavier than any single piece we had ever lifted and with a schedule faster than what we thought we could accommodate, we, of course, said, “Yes.”

Meyer + Silberberg designed the 20-foot long, 3-ton bowl as the feature object for an office courtyard in San Francisco. The bowl was to capture rainwater funneled from a scupper above and then distributed down into surrounding planter beds. As with many of these complex projects, we initially were given a very simple form in a 3D file. It was up to us to turn the concept into a reality. Our engineering team spent weeks refining the design with the architects: studying the proportions, changing the angle to accommodate internal supports, designing a steel armature for the bowl to sit on and changing the shape in subtle ways to maximize the strength of the concrete.

The biggest part of the design problem was that we were brought in late during the building’s construction and the piece would have to be craned over the building into the courtyard. This meant designing an additional steel armature that would cage and protect the piece as it was lifted, adding close to one thousand pounds of steel that would be cut away after it was installed. All of this has to be designed, engineered, fabricated, formed, cast, flipped, de-molded, polished, sealed, delivered and craned on an accelerated schedule. We certainly had our work cut out for us.

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Once we were given the green light our engineering and productions teams in tandem started straight away. Over the course of several weeks, we ran our CNC machines around the clock to create complex three-dimensional forms that would capture the shape of the finished pieces. Meanwhile, on the factory floor, orthogonal pieces were being cut from wood and a platform was erected upon which the form would be built. The form was ultimately made of hundreds of parts in wood, foam and steel. Altogether the two-part mold was over 12 feet tall and weighed almost 2 tons on its own.

Casting was accomplished in one day and involved a majority of our production staff. We used advanced concrete spraying machinery that allowed us to cast the top half of the mold upside down. When we closed the mold and filled the last bits of concrete, the real wait began. As concrete cures, it releases an enormous amount of heat. During the initial curing time we covered the mold with bags of ice and cooling blankets, in order to control the temperature, which still rose to well over 100 degrees fahrenheit.

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When it was finished and wrapped, we craned the piece onto a flatbed truck and drove it to San Francisco. After an overnight stay in the truck yard it was delivered to the office for the last leg of its journey. The crane picked up the piece and carried it over the five-story office building and lowered it through a narrow slot at the back of the courtyard. There was a total of three inches of clearance on either side of the armature as it slid past the glass roof of the courtyard. The whole process took close to 45 nerve-racking minutes, and we were all very relieved to see it safely back on the ground.

img_9067 img_9133 img_9190 img_9206 img_9218 img_9243 img_9247 img_9258 img_9278cistern_installedThis was one of the most challenging pieces we had to create. We were pushed at every step of the process to think in new ways and come up with novel solutions to achieve our goals. And even though there were many late nights and difficult roadblocks to overcome, it’s projects like these that keep us coming back to work everyday. We learn new things about our material and we translate that into every piece that comes after it. The Cistern was installed in February of this year and since then we have continued to feed our appetite for complex challenges. Keep your eyes here to see what we’ve been making. We can’t wait to tell you about it.

If you have a project with a similar (or larger) scope or scale, get in touch. We’re always looking for our next big challenge. [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Event Reminder | The Good Craft | This Saturday!

Reminder: Join us this Saturday, October 22nd, alongside a variety of Bay Area artisans and makers, showcasing our products at The Good Craft Pop-Up.

The Good Craft is a pop-up hosted by Celery Space, a work/shop space in West Berkeley that regularly features Bay Area craft & design.

R.S.V.P. to the event via Facebook 

When Saturday October 22, 2016, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

Where Celery Space 1714 San Pablo Avenue Berkeley CA 94702

Event | The Good Craft

Join us on Saturday October 22nd alongside a variety of Bay Area artisans and makers, showcasing our products at The Good Craft Pop-Up.

The Good Craft is a pop-up hosted by Celery Space, a work/shop space in West Berkeley that regularly features Bay Area craft & design.

R.S.V.P. to the event via Facebook 

When Saturday October 22, 2016, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

Where Celery Space 1714 San Pablo Avenue Berkeley CA 94702

Summer in Los Angeles

This summer we journeyed to Southern California to showcase our products at two venues in Los Angeles: Heath Ceramics and Dwell on Design.

Heath Ceramics LA

img_9593Banners for the eventimg_9622img_9605img_9596img_9626img_9617combined-imageModern design in Los Angeles took off in the decades following WWII in response to an influx of young families moving West and a desire to shake off the old traditions of Europe. With a community of young and progressive architects and designers like Pierre Koenig, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Ray and Charles Eames, design in Los Angeles helped define contemporary living on the West Coast in the ‘40s and beyond. So it only made sense to head down there with our best products that showcase our sense of contemporary California design.

To kick off our arrival in the City of Angels, we held a party with our longtime friends and collaborators, Heath Ceramics. For years our two companies have been specified together in contemporary projects up and down the West Coast. We filled their showroom on Beverly Blvd creating moments to gather around our products both indoors and out. It was nice to have an event where we could finally share our stories together. 

For three days after we exhibited at the Dwell on Design show in the LA Convention Center. The show is organized by Dwell Magazine and features fabricators, designers and manufacturers from the world over. We were excited to be able to showcase our products — including two new planter shapes and a new indoor/outdoor fire feature — amongst other captivating products and furniture.

We were well received wherever we went and made exciting new connections along the way. The design scene in Los Angeles is always changing and it adds a lot to our sensibilities to be able to explore new sources of inspiration. Our sojourn was exciting and we were happy to be able to venture out of our neck of the woods and try something new.

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Concreteworks Has Moved!

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We are pleased to announce that with the growth of Concreteworks we have moved to a new larger location in Alameda. 

During our transition to the new location, visits are by appointment only. For more information please email us at [email protected] or contact us via phone at 510.534.7141. 

Check back for updates on the opening of our new showroom.