"LightRail" Rendering

The resolution which would clear the way for Illuminate the Arts – the group behind the Bay Lights currently illuminating the Bay Bridge – to suspend LED tubes from the overhead MUNI lines along the 2.1 mile stretch of Market Street from The Embarcadero to Van Ness Avenue is slated to be adopted next week.

Designed by George Zisiadis and Stefano Corazza to modulate in conjunction with the movement of the MUNI trains below, the LightRail installation would be “the world’s first subway-responsive light sculpture.”

From the sponsors of the project:

By beautifully visualizing the real-time movement of underground trains, LightRail will transform San Francisco’s preeminent thoroughfare—our Champs-Elysées– into a scene of wonder and awe for millions of people, re-establishing Market Street as a place of destination rather than a mere route of passage. The installation will visually connect Market Street’s long-fragmented communities and further fuel efforts aiming to revitalize Market Street–while reinforcing the corridor’s historic creative essence.

Like the Bay Lights, the LightRail installation is intended to be temporary, only lasting “through 2018, the year Market Street is slated to be reconfigured to better serve and inspire our city’s residents and visitors for generations to come.”

Illuminate the Arts is currently scrambling to raise the $4 million necessary to turn the Bay Lights into a permanent fixture.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Awesome, I hope this gets green lighted. Here’s the project website for more info.

  2. Posted by BTinSF

    How about just transforming Market St. into something that helps people get where they need to go with a minimum of hassle? It’s called a “street”, not an art work.

    • Posted by Brad

      Coming soon, brah (though it’s not likely to benefit cars).

    • Posted by Abonadon

      As if those things are mutually exclusive. How’s Arizona this time of year, buddy?

  3. Posted by Sam

    Eh, seems unnecessary and not that interesting. I’m coming around to the John King criticism of the bay bridge lights, which if you haven’t read is fairly compelling.

  4. Posted by Wistful Thinking

    I like the Bay Bridge lights because it is a nice art piece to an existing bridge. Another visual attraction for tourists and locals. I wish they were permanent.

    The Market Street lights have less appeal because it looks more like a laser light show. Or it highlights a dream for efficient public transport? Champ – Elysees? Eh, not so much. Try shooting for the efficiency of Singapore. Less dreaming, more doing.

    • Posted by Joel V

      Yeah, it’s going to take some effort to get even close to Champ Elysees, that said I’m all for seeing how the light project goes. Maybe they could add another set of tubes for BART trains?

  5. Posted by Sierrajeff

    I think this is silly in general, and the money could be better spent on real, substantive improvements.

    But regardless, doesn’t a light installation that responds to the underground passage of subway trains *reinforce*, not dilute, the notion of Market Street as a “route of passage”?

    • Posted by R

      Installation, etc is not costing the city any money. Though, I agree… compared to the Bay Bridge lights, this is tired and unexciting.

    • Posted by Beatrice Plotter

      Route of passage = the passage of Colt 45 from the esophagus through the urinary tract to the pavement.

  6. Posted by sf

    SF and its constant identity issue trying to compare itself to major world centers (Champ Elysses? lol)

    I think this is really cool and look forward to seeing it!

    • Posted by FedUp!

      “Our Champs Elysees”. Really?!?!?

      The picture says it all. Perhaps the ugliest signature street of any major city in America. Can you imagine such a silly attempt at “public art” being considered on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, or Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue in New York?

      • Posted by spencer

        market st is our most embarrassing street, not signature street. most toursists as well as locals AVOID market st.

        • Posted by spencer

          not to mention, an easy fix to making market st more attractive is to clean up the homelesss

      • Posted by Joel V

        Market needs ALOT of work. A good start would be eliminating private vehicle traffic along Market and prioritizing public transit, bike, and foot traffic. Something similar to Las Ramblas in Barcelona…

  7. Posted by R

    2018 for the Market Street redesign is completely unacceptable. Projects like this (and Van Ness BRT) should never be delayed like they have been.

  8. Posted by invented

    The SF marketing machine at it again. Please let Market St speak for itself as a visually interesting urban and engaging street. This is a wholesale waste of time and is redundant with what exists. Let the city breathe in its own genuine urbane way. California — stop adding these confections and trying to make this a cloyingly cute Disneyland. It isn’t. If you have to add a light — go to Geary and 21st or Bayshore and brighten up those stretches. There would be more punch there. This is competitive and redundant with a becoming urban strand.

    • Posted by DL Dude

      You put a lot of work into crafting that little quip, eh?

  9. Posted by Futurist

    Ridiculous. Fix Muni instead. Make it reliable.

  10. Posted by Snark17

    This is cheese. The lights on the bay bridge also are cheese– can’t wait until they come down.

  11. Posted by GreystoneSFO

    So I guess with Bart and Muni you can see that the trains are not working if you don’t see lights. Which will be quiet often.

  12. Posted by tj

    Is San francisco so starved for public art that people think that this is good?

    I could see a version of this installed along the panhandle, with lights tracking individual cyclists, and providing an individualized, interactive experience. But the movement of Muni light rail trains below market? Seems like a desperate reach for an idea, akin to the patterns of the Bay Lights, mindlessly repeating and completely ignorant of variations of time, tide, and traffic that the bridge itself experiences.

    If “illuminate the arts” is at all serious in it’s comparison of Market Street with the Champs Elysses, perhaps they should start with the basics, a coordinated lighting scheme for all of the “grand monuments” the lie along its route.

  13. Posted by eflat

    Market St:= Champ Elysee, Park Ave., Michigan Ave., LMAO!! The [people] @ SF Planning/MTA need to get out more, Market St was ruined during the construction of BART and has never come back, it is a pit

  14. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    I was thinking about this last night. Every New Year’s Eve, the international news channels broadcast the countdown celebrations from world class cities with their icons ie. Moscow’s Red Square, London’s Thames, Taiwan’s 101 Tower, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Hong Kong’s skyline, Beijing, Shanghai, Australia, Malaysia, Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, NYC’s Times Square, Las Vegas’ Strip, etc. SF barely makes the local news.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      To be fair that’s partly because at least 50% of the time, the local fireworks are lost in the fog…

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair
  16. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    As Kate Middleton would do: *eyeroll* May I suggest some Def Leppard or Whitesnake music to go w/ the light show? It does serve to highlight some of the problem areas closer to the Van Ness side.

  17. Posted by Beatrice Plotter

    The Bay Bridge Lights will stay on. Heard on the news a Jewish Group donated $2 Million to match the $2 Million already raised. Happy Hanukkah!

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