Cover: Overhead catenary lines of a light-rail system.
Detail, artist designed grille, New York City.
Art in transit... making it happen
Wendy Feuer, Project Director
Director Arts for Transit and Facilities Design
New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority
|Gordon J. Linton, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration|
|Janette Sadik-Khan, Associate Administrator, Budget and Policy|
|4||Communicating with the community|
|San Francisco: Stations win approval by reflecting their surroundings|
|8||Building ownership; building ridership|
|Corpus Christi: Residents cover bus transfer centers with thousands of unique tiles|
|10||Taming construction distruption|
|Portland: Barricades are turned into giant canvases|
|14||Connecting community to rail|
|Miami: Walkway offers catalyst for neighborhood revival|
|16||Making an impact|
|Los Angeles: Creating a place for art on the Green Line|
|20||Bringing residents into the process|
|Boston: Writing, photography, and history programs document community transformed by intermodal project|
|22||Designing as a team|
|St. Louis: Artists help shape new light-rail system|
|26||Moving forward with style|
|Seattle/King County: New buses look good, run well, and don't break the budget|
|Seattle/King County: 425 bus shelters are a welcome sight|
|30||Softening the hardening|
|New York: Artist designs floor-to-ceiling grilles for 467 subway stations|
|FTA Circular 9400.1A Subject : Design and art in transit projects|
|Case study credits|
|Art in mass transit systems|
MASS TRANSIT, LIKE
so many other industries, is using new technologies to achieve efficiencies. Train cars reduce energy consumption by channeling unused electrical energy back into the third rail. Buses run on various fuels, such as compressed natural gas, methanol, or ethanol, to decrease air pollution. Passengers use magnetic fare cards, which improve access to trains and curb fare evasion.
But to provide the quality transit service necessary to attract new riders requires more than innovations in technology. Passengers must feel comfortable and secure in our facilities-- and they will if the design is attractive.
While transit plays a critical role in making communities more livable, it has not always been welcomed by those it seeks to serve. Transit services must be a positive force in neighborhoods if they are to be accepted. It is no surprise, then, that transit operators are increasingly concerned about the quality of the stations, bus stops, trains, and buses where people spend their time either waiting or riding. Artists can play a unique role in this search for quality, as the case studies in this book show. Artists can add value to mass transit's primary goal of building ridership. The FTA encourages agencies to pursue art and design excellence in their systems for these reasons.
Gordon J. Linton
Administrator, Federal Transit Administration
Senior/Oesterle Architecture+Art, Apache Boulevard, Tempe, Arizona
Benson Shaw and Clark Wiegman, Olympia, Washington
While it may seem burdensome to bring yet another player onto the design and construction team, evidence shows that the initial investment yields permanent benefits. Art projects do much more than add an essential human dimension to transit--they assuage community concerns about the disruptions of transit construction, improve passenger comfort and safety, and reinforce the spirit and identity of cities and towns.
Transit agencies have more then fifteen years' experience in developing and refining art programs, some with FTA funds and some with local and private dollars. At least thirty agencies around the country have embarked on art projects or programs. Each agency has a good story to tell, and we wish we could have related more of them.
We believe that the projects profiled in this book can serve as models for agencies that are planning new transit investments. We hope that this booklet will inspire those who care about transit, art, and their communities.
Pierre Matisse, Kendall Square Station, Cambridge, Massachusetts
San Francisco: Stations win approval by reflecting their surroundings
WHEN A ROUTINE light-rail station rehabilitation project bogged down because of community opposition, San Francisco's Municipal Railway (Muni) turned to a pair of artists who not only broke the impasse but also designed an eye-catching addition to the city's landscape.
Muni's project seemed straightforward enough-- rebuilding platforms at two stations in the Lakeside district so they would be wider, safer, and in conformance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and adding a pocket track on which trains could lay over.
But several factions in the community circled in opposition: students and officials at nearby San Francisco State University (SFSU), the manager of an adjacent shopping mall, civic leaders in the surrounding neighborhood, senior citizens, and teachers at a local school. They came with an earful of concerns-- Muni's poor track record in maintaining facilities, the inconvenience construction would create, and the visual impact of the new platform and the trains that would park near the station.
Muni had hit a dead end. Then it asked San Francisco's Art Commission, which manages the city's percent-for-art program, for help. (The city's art program only covers buildings, so the platform project was not required to include public art.)
While Muni's offer was startling--get the community behind the project, and we will support whatever design you come up with, as long as it can be built safely and maintained easily--the conditions the agency set were formidable. Only $100,000 had been budgeted for each platform's shelter and amenities. And Muni gave the Art Commission barely two months, from June to August 1993, to turn the entire project around.
To save time the commission suspended to its normal artist selection process, which includes advertising projects and peer reviews of proposals. Instead, commission staff nominated Leonard Hunter, head of SFSU's sculpture department, and Sheila Ghidini, a visiting professor there, for the job. The commissioners, pleased that Hunter and Ghidini had connections to the community, approved.
Hunter and Ghidini held weekly meetings with the various groups opposed to the project. They began with a presentation that surveyed boarding platforms used in other transit systems, explored the area's architectural history, and reviewed the history of transit in that part of the city. They fostered a discussion about the community's attributes and its most recognizable visual characteristics.
Then the artists helped establish the process by which design decisions would be made, a simple majority vote. They helped the community define basic criteria for the design of the stations and identify issues of concern, such as the impact of sunlight patterns and prevailing winds.
Week after week, the artists returned with ideas, explaining how the design responded to the group's concerns. Covering the walls with tiles, for example, would make it easier to clean graffiti. An undulating canopy would reflect San Francisco's hilly cityscape and anticipate the sun's movement. This patient design process broke the logjam. The artists won the group's trust and their proposals won the community's support.
Other problems loomed. The cost of the canopies, seating, lighting, and other amenities was now estimated at $600,000 per platform. In August 1993, when preliminary designs were complete, the Art Commission applied through Muni for Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) enhancement funding. That October, the commission was told the project would likely be given $400,000, which would cover much, but not all, of the gap.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which oversaw Muni and had to approve the project, was unaware of this design process and was stunned by the new and different look that was proposed. The project stalled again while politicians debated issues of neighborhood equity and design precedents. Now the same community that had been resistant to Muni came out in droves to support the project. Ultimately, the PUC increased its funding to $200,000 per canopy and the city agreed to provide the required match for the ISTEA money from transportation sales tax revenues.
The next snag occurred during construction. The artists had developed a conceptual design, but Muni asked its in-house engineering staff to prepare construction documents. The Art Commission insisted the artists be given oversight, but there were disagreements between the artists and engineers over construction details. Ultimately, during construction, costly change orders were issued to undo unnecessary structural work.
The stations, opened for service in November 1994, are clearly some of the most distinctive features of San Francisco's transit landscape. There is no better evidence of the community's support than SFSU's agreement to maintain the station near its campus, at a cost of $50,000 per year. As a result, the station is free of ads, adorned with flower boxes and announcements about cultural events on campus.
The station design makes waiting more pleasant.
Corpus Christi: Residents cover bus transfer centers with thousands of unique tiles
ORDINARILY, BUS TRANSFER centers are forgettable, much-maligned places, where riders get off one bus and get on another, hopefully without waiting too long. But Corpus Christi's recently created Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has made its transfer centers key elements of its public image and vital agents in attracting riders.
The agency called on residents to help with decorative art projects that are integral to the design of two new transfer centers, one downtown and one in a largely Hispanic neighborhood. The result is a pair of welcoming, comfortable places to catch or change buses, a strong sense of community ownership of these important elements of a growing system, and a healthy dose of good publicity.
The Port Ayers and Staples Street transfer centers are decorated with nearly 3,000 vivid ceramic tiles designed by local residents. The colorful tiles, which depict geometric shapes, sea life, self portraits, and pictures of pets, adorn the bases of the buildings, the columns that support the station canopies, and such landscape elements as planters. RTA's system, launched in 1986, serves about 18,000 riders a day, 3,000 of whom use Staples Street Station and 1,200 of whom use the Port Ayers transfer center.
The tile projects proceeded concurrently with the design and construction of the transfer centers. The agency contracted with local arts organizations to coordinate the tilemaking and worked with the stations' architects to identify surfaces on which the tiles could be mounted. Local artists hosted work sessions throughout the city--inviting members of the public to try their hand at painting tiles and to leave something for posterity.
The combined cost of the tile projects was $45,000; the total cost for both stations was $1.5 million. (The FTA funded 80 percent of the station costs; the tile projects were paid for entirely by local funds.) This is almost a third more than plain tiles would have cost, but transit officials say the price was worth it, especially for the riders--who delight in finding the tiles that they themselves created and in discovering the imagination of their fellow Corpus Christians.
Port Ayers transfer center.
Staples Street transfer center.
Customer sits in front of vivid tiles that distinguish the Port Ayers transfer center.
Portland: Barricades are turned into giant canvases
PORTLAND, OREGON, IS
known for innovation in planning, from its urban growth boundaries to its downtown transit mall--and the new Westside MAX light-rail extension is no exception.
Progress always seems to come with a price, however. Construction of an underground station on the Westside line spelled trouble for five large cultural institutions whose activities would be affected by noise, dust, blasting, and the loss of 400 parking spaces.
But the station designers and a team of artists, collaborating to identify permanent public art opportunities along the Westside line, came up with an innovative temporary project that makes even the construction site worth a visit. They urged Tri-Met, the regional transit agency, to turn the 1,000-foot long, 12-foot-high wooden construction barricade (originally designed for noise abatement) into an unusual and sizable canvas for original paintings.
The MAX Art Advisory Committee, the citizen-based policy and review body that oversees Tri-Met's art program, committed $36,000 for artists' stipends for the fences project (funds for materials and a catalogue came from private contributions). Tri-Met art program staff asked the Portland-based Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to coordinate the project and hired local artist Kristy Edmunds to curate it.
Drawing for one of the sixteen murals at construction site.
The Finished Mural
Groundwork for the fence project began in 1992 and was facilitated by Tri-Met staff members who had good relationships with both the contractor and the five institutions. The art project was incorporated into the plans for the construction site even before the station contract was bid; specifications included appropriate treatment for fence surfaces, construction of a mixing station and storage shed, and requirements for electricity, water, security, and traffic control.
The contractor was most concerned about safety and liability. Advance arrangements kept the artists who were painting the access gate and trucks rumbling in and out of the site from interfering with each other. And RACC hired an on-site coordinator who worked to ensure the two weeks of painting went smoothly.
In fall 1994, artists were asked to submit letters of interest. Out of two hundred responses, seventeen artists were selected, ranging from whose careers were well established to some who had never had a public commission before. During the winter, the artists worked with Edmunds to develop their concepts, which were reviewed by the Art Advisory Committee and a committee of representatives of the five institutions near the site.
The fence went up in late 1994 and painting was scheduled for May, 1995, to avoid Portland's rainy winter weather. It was not an easy job. The artists had to work on site, painting the already constructed wall while crowded into an eight-foot-wide space separated from busy streets by concrete barriers. To minimize interference with construction, the painting had to occur within a two-week time frame, leaving little room for rain delays. The artists were given only five colors to work with (primary colors, white, and black); they had to mix to make other colors. (The paint was high quality latex house paint, which research showed would hold up as well as oil paint.)
Both the artists and the weather rose to the occasion. The artists incorporated elements from the site into their designs, improvised tools to deal with the scale of the fence and took advice from passersby; the weather was warm and sunny. The biggest problem was that the paint was used more quickly than expected; by the second day, project coordinators realized there wouldn't be enough and rushed to a home repair store to buy more.
Altogether, the artists produced sixteen paintings, ranging from 44 feet to 144 feet long and representing a wide range of styles. Angela Medlin's stylized figures of African Americans depict unity among family and friends. Lucinda Parker's "Tree Leaves" depicts the shape of leaves found near the site and contains the names of Oregon trees. Manda Becketts's "Traffic" is a movement-filled cityscape that encompasses many types of transportation.
Thousands of people see the paintings every day, and many of them react with astonishment. "We're used to seeing advertisements or graffiti outdoors," curator Edmunds remarked. "We're presenting something on a large scale that isn't a billboard."
This inexpensive, easy-to-administer project is likely to pay long-term dividends for Tri-Met. The fence project managed to build good will with a community adversely affected by transit construction and to generate positive attention. In fact, the paintings--scheduled to be up for almost two years, until work is finished in 1997--might outlive the construction project. Local groups have offered to find new sites for the paintings after the barricades come down.
Painted barriers circle the construction site.
Miami: Walkway offers catalyst for neighborhood revival
MIAMI'S METRORAIL SOARS above the Overtown neighborhood with a marked indifference, just like the railroad and expressways that cut Overtown off from the rest of the city. But a colorful new pedestrian walkway promises to bring passengers from the local Metrorail station into a revitalizing neighborhood, while celebrating the history of Overtown and the African Americans who settled it.
The pedestrian walkway, which runs for two blocks under Metrorail's elevated structure, connects the station with a pedestrian mall that leads into Overtown and will anchor new development. It is paved with vivid concrete blocks whose abstract patterns recall traditional African kente cloth weaving; a set of ten bronze medallions embedded in the main plaza express themes in the neighborhood's history.
The project was conceived in a 1984 plan for the area but didn't get underway until FTA funding of $1.89 million came through in 1994. It was built on a fast-track schedule, only four months from design concept to ribbon cutting, so it could be ready for the Summit of the Americas in 1994.
The walkway leapt hurdles that often stall projects or escalate costs. Numerous agencies worked together smoothly because each had a specific role and because political leaders made the project a clear priority. The Metro-Dade Transit Agency applied for the funds, Dade County Art in Public Places coordinated the artist selection, the county Department of Facilities and Development Management acquired the land, and the county Public Works Department managed designed and construction. The city of Miami maintains the walkway.
Ninth Street Pedestrian Mall.
Other issues had to be resolved. The project's community advisory board was hoping to create a monument to individuals and institutions important to Overtown's past; Miami artist Gary Moore was seeking fresh interpretations of African cultural history. Moore's patience is discussing his kente cloth design and his proposal for the medallions eventually won over the board. Moore and landscape architect Gerald Marston then helped the contractor devise a simple, efficient technique for making the multi-colored pavers.
Today the walkway and mall host lively street fairs and farmers' markets, and hopefully will catalyze Overtown's more ambitious plans. These include residential and commercial projects and a tourist attraction that would depict Overtown in the early twentieth century, when it was a self-sufficient African American community.
This sensitive pedestrian infrastructure offers new hope for neighborhood improvement by tying transit to the community. The facility with which the project was completed is a model for the cooperation necessary to make long-term, complex redevelopment projects work.
Los Angeles: Creating a place for art on the Green Line
LOS ANGELES SEEMS an unlikely place for a mass transit system. But the region's buses carry more than a million riders a day, and for more than a decade it has been pressing ahead with construction of a planned 80-mile, $7.86 billion light-and heavy-rail network.
MetroRail's public art program is equally ambitious. The Green Line, a recently completed light-rail segment, was the first that included artists in station design teams. At the outset, some construction and engineering staff were wary of the collaborative approach, fearing that it would delay the project and make it more expensive, that the public would consider art an unnecessary cost, and that the art would be controversial.
One help was MetroRail's CEO at the time, Neil Peterson, who personally urged construction staff to support the program. Metro Art staff established extensive consultation processes with construction managers and created a community advisory group to seek input and participation. Early community support for the art helped the agency raise money later from local government and businesses. (The Green Line was a locally funded project that used no federal funds.)
If anything, the projects demonstrated that the closer architects, engineers, and artists work together throughout the entire design and construction process, the better. Artists didn't join the design team until the 60 percent design phase, making it hard to review budget estimates for artwork until the final design submittal. Also, the structural plans for some of the artwork proved to be over-engineered, requiring costly redos. The architects weren't involved in the construction phase (although the artists were), making it hard to ensure the designs were built as proposed.
Some artists had difficulty fabricating their artwork on time, but installation contracts were modified without delaying the completion of the stations. Maintenance problems (such as the use of materials and paint that would not stand up to the region's moist, polluted air) were avoided by having maintenance staff review materials specifications prior to installation; Metro Art is taking steps to submit future projects to even closer scrutiny.
In spite of their late start, the artists influenced many components of the system. Renee Petropoulos carved reflective phrases into the risers of the Douglas/Rosencrans Station, noting that a transit ride often marks an important transition in a person's day. Daniel Martinez's sculpture at the El Segundo Station plays on the neighborhood's history as an aerospace and defense manufacturing center.
The stations have been received warmly by Green Line customers and are becoming tourist attractions. And collaborative station design projects are now standard procedure as Metrorail expands.
Proposal for wire-mesh sculpture that relates to defense and aerospace industries located near station.
Phrases carved into risers echo thoughts that may be in riders' minds.
Part of the art for this Green Line station is dramatically hoisted into place.
Left to right: The original Native American name for the station's location meant "Place of the Bees." Detail of table and chairs at station's platform level, which house a specially designed lens with a kaleidoscopic view of the moving street traffic below. A large, vibrantly colored, metal cut-out figure plays hide-and-seek among the columns supporting the freeway above.
Boston: Writing, photography, and history programs document community transformed by intermodal project
IN THE 1980S Boston relocated its elevated Orange Line into a nearby railroad corridor, coupling it with Amtrak and commuter rail service and creating a model in intermodal connection.
But the project was controversial from the start. A decade before, to make way for a new expressway, a right-of-way had been cut through poor and working-class neighborhoods. Outraged residents protested the expressway and ultimately battled it to a halt. These same communities were then wary of the transit relocation, even with a 4.7-mile-long park that would also occupy the corridor. They were fearful about the gentrification and crime the project might bring to their neighborhoods.
Public art became a tool to help these residents cope with the change. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) hired UrbanArts, a local organization, to coordinate an arts program. UrbanArts not only established a traditional station-specific art program, which citizen-based station committees helped review, but also created opportunities for residents to document the transformation their neighborhood was experiencing through photography, oral history, and writing. These explorations helped residents to assert an identity they felt was being erased by the massive construction project and to relieve the tensions that had been building in their community.
Nearly 800 people of all ages and backgrounds took part in the projects. Professional photographers went on shoots with high school students to capture the architecture and people of "The El" prior to its demolition. College students collected oral histories from community residents. These photographs and texts were exhibited throughout the community; the oral histories were even produced as a theatrical performance.
Poetry and prose is inscribed on granite panels inside and outside the stations.
UrbanArts also held a competition to find poetry and prose that would be inscribed in granite and installed permanently in new Orange Line stations and adjacent parkland. An advisory group helped spread word in literary circles and a selection panel chose the writing that would be featured. Some of the writers had never had their work published before.
The writing, history, and photography projects were developed in response to the MBTA's request for educational programming. However, UrbanArts envisioned something more ambitious than the MBTA anticipated. Therefore, the group raised seed money for local sources to launch the projects and MBTA funded the final stages, including the installation of the poetry and prose.
The Orange Line projects suggest that public art can do more than enhance public space; it can advance a more far-reaching role in the social and economic revitalization of urban neighborhoods. They demonstrate how communities can use public art to deal with conflict creatively and constructively.
Poetry and prose is inscribed on granite panels inside and outside the stations.
St. Louis: Artists help share new light-rail system
WHEN ST. LOUIS began planning its new light-rail system in the mid-1980s, two of the challenges it faced were attracting riders who didn't normally rely on public transportation and building a system that contributed aesthetically to the region. So the system's planners asked artists for help-- not in creating specific art projects, but in designing the system from top to bottom, from stations to shop buildings, from rolling stock to rights of way.
The resulting collaboration between MetroLink's artists, architects, and engineers has resulted in an award-winning work of infrastructure and proved that artists can help design a visually coherent, efficient system that is appealing, easy to use, and comfortable. MetroLinks' higher-than-expected passenger loads (43,000 on weekdays, 45,000 on weekends, compared to projection of 12,000 a day) demonstrate that investment in good design can help attract riders.
The Bi-State Development Agency, which was building MetroLink, wanted to use off-the-shelf, service-proven technology in order to contain costs and keep development on schedule. At the urging of civic leaders, Bi-State brought in a team of six artists, hoping to attract riders by improving the design.
The system was designed and constructed through a full funding agreement from the Urban Mass Transit Administration (now FTA); funding for the artist involvement initially came from the National Endowment for the Arts and the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission and later from FTA funds.
The artists started work at the 30 percent design stage, after preliminary engineering had been completed, so they had to invent their own guidelines for involvement. They decided to approach the entire system as an 18-mile-long work of art, rather than to create isolated art projects. They sought to design a kit-of-parts for newly constructed elements (such as bridge piers, canopies, tunnel ceilings, and vehicle interiors) while preserving visual elements of the right of way that MetroLink would occupy.
The artists established three criteria that would infuse their work: MetroLink would grow from what is characteristic of St. Louis, it would be a whole set of related components, and it would be dynamic rather than static. They envisioned a system that would flow through the region, reflecting the ever-present curves of the Mississippi River, the Eads Bridge (a nineteenth-century steel and limestone landmark), and the Gateway Arch.
At first the collaboration was tense. Because of the pressure to keep the project on time and budget, it was not always easy to rethink basic decisions--especially since the architects and engineers, not the artists, would be held responsible for delays and overruns. Lead artist Leila Daw observed that the designers worked together best in one-on-one, conversational settings over drafting boards or cups of coffee, rather than in the formal atmosphere of meetings.
MetroLink train threads through an old railroad tunnel.
Y-shaped bridge piers were inspired by curves in the landscape.
The most vivid outcome of the collaboration came in the large infrastructure elements that had to be designed, bid, and built first. For example, artists helped redesignt standard T-shaped bridge piers into curving, Y-shaped forms, whose shape is inspired by curves in the region's built and natural landscape. The rippled, sculptural station canopies resemble the skeleton of a Mississippi River creature.
Also, both underground stations were rethought after the artists became involved. Original plans called for box-shaped spaces with columns along the platforms; the finished stations are free of columns and enclosed by curved ceilings and battered walls to widen the interior space. MetroLink trains thread through an old railroad tunnel whose brick walls project into the stations, contrasting with the sleek, new train design.
Even support structures were considered. The shop building, where trains are serviced and cleaned, was given interior viewing platforms so the workings of the system, not usually seen, could be open to the public. Signal bungalows were surrounded with open steel frames, highlighting the structures instead of hiding them.
The artists were less successful at influencing the design details; some of the ideas agreed to by the artists and design teams early on were dropped because of budget considerations. For example, at 60 percent design, the Forest Park Station had curving walks and stairways reminiscent of the architecture of the St. Louis Exposition. These were replaced with standard stairways and paths.
Bi-State's value engineering process also influenced the design. Contractors could submit alternatives to the final design and profit from changes the agency approved. In this process, retaining walls along the right-of-way that had been selected and coordinated by the artists were replaced by versions that had been rejected.
In spite of these changes, the artists began to rewrite the rules for artist involvement in transit design. They confronted the often rigid programs of contemporary engineering and transit system design with the creative traditions of site sculpture and community-oriented design. They relinquished the artist's role of working independently to create singular objects, instead working hand-in-hand with others to design elements of the system's infrastructure. The team effort resulted in a great public work that has been received with enthusiasm in the region and among its customers.
Canopies reflect Mississippi River life.
Seattle/King County: New buses look good, run well, and don't break the budget
HOW CAN A bus be designed to increase riders' comfort and safety and improve the bus system's identity--without costing more to build or operate? That's the challenge the King County Metro bus agency posed to an unusual team of artists and designers. The answer has just rolled off the assembly line and onto the county's streets.
The new design addresses the concerns of both passengers and Metro staff members who operate and maintain the fleet. The buses are comfortable, with high-back seats and colorful interiors; have signs that communicate route, safety, and fare information more clearly; and have better ventilation and lighting. They are low maintenance, with vandal-resistant materials. And they are a proud addition to the county's streets, sporting vivid yellows along the bottom and Northwest-inspired blues and greens on top..
The unique design process came about when Metro launched a ten-year plan to replace almost all of its 1,200 buses. Metro's Arts Committee, which normally administers percent-for-art funds from transit construction projects, saw an opportunity to improve the design of the vehicles 250,000 people ride every day.
At the urging of the Arts Committee, Metro hired a team that included an industrial designer, interior designer, graphic designer, communications specialist, and public artist to propose changes to the bus interior and exterior. The team was assisted by an 18-member employee task force that included drivers; maintenance workers; safety planners; and sales, marketing, and customer relations staff--people whose support would be critical to approving the new design.
The team had six months to come up with a new design that cost no more to build, operate, or maintain than a standard bus. The $90,000 design contract was funded by shifting art program money that would have gone to construction projects (which had a percent-for-art set-aside) to the bus project (which did not).
Before long, though, the design team found itself pulled in different directions by the Arts Committee, which had hired the team and met with it monthly to discuss aesthetic issues, and the employee task force, which met almost daily with the team and provided technical information. The Arts Committee wanted the team to stretch the limits of bus design, emphasizing innovation, creativity, and aesthetics. The employee task force was willing to support change but was more concerned about such practical matters as safety, maintenance, and operations.
Mock-ups of two new buses.
These conflicting directions, and the tension they created, threatened to derail the project. Eventually, lines of communication were opened by modifying the process-- Arts Committee and task force members began to attend each other's meetings and the groups held some joint meetings, providing a forum for dialogue and compromise.
Preliminary designs were displayed at libraries, shopping centers, and community centers throughout the county to gauge public reaction. The team then prepared a final design, based on reactions from the public, the employee task force, and the Arts Committee. Metro built a prototype by modifying a bus from its existing fleet, and sought further public comment.
While the exterior design generated some controversy, most of the changes were received enthusiastically. Metro's decision to go with the new design was bold but easy to make because it was backed up by a thoughtful design process, careful cost estimating, and thorough public consultation. The buses came in on budget at $240,000 each, 80 percent of which was funded by the FTA.
The first group of 360 buses went into service in January 1996, and Seattle is happy to have them. As one resident put it: "Perhaps Metro will do for buses what Starbucks has done for coffee!"
Prototype bus was used to solicit public comment.
Seattle/King County: 425 bus shelters are a welcome sight
KING COUNTY'S METRO bus system has found a remarkably simple way to make its shelters a more welcoming place to wait for a bus: it gives local residents, schoolchildren, and artists a chance to design and paint their very own shelter murals.
The program is inexpensive and uncomplicated. People or groups interested in creating murals are asked to select a shelter and to submit a design. Metro staff review the design to make sure it meets a few basic criteria, and the bus agency provides muralists with preprimed plywood panels and kits of paint. Participants are asked to complete their murals within three months and return them to the facilities shop. Maintenance staff coat the murals with a graffiti resistant, protective clear coat and install the panels, often during their normal repair and cleaning rounds. The total cost is about $600 per mural, not including installation.
The idea caught Metro's attention in 1989, when it asked its employees for ideas about improving customer service. Employees were grouped into brainstorming teams that included administrators, bus operators, mechanics, and others. One team, inspired by research indicating that community-designed murals could build local ownership of public facilities and help reduce graffiti, suggested asking high school students to paint murals on some of the system's most heavily vandalized shelters. The pilot project was given $1,000 and developed a dozen murals.
From left to right : A local AIDS hospice, elementary schoolchildren, and professional artists have all tried their hand at bus shelter murals.
The program expanded slowly. At the outset, one staff person worked on it a few hours a week, local businesses donated the paint and Metro's facilities division donated the wood. For several years, the agency's percent-for-art program provided funding for materials and a three-fourths-time project coordinator. Now the program operates with a $65,000 allocation from Metro's Bus Shelter Comfort and Safety Program.
More than 425 murals were installed during the first six years of the program and 100 more are added each year. High school students, elementary school students, and senior citizens have contributed murals; local arts councils have funded professional artists to coordinate mural projects in their own neighborhoods. Researchers are now studying whether the murals have reduced graffiti, but bus riders say they sense a change.
For bus riders and residents, the result has been a feast of "folk" art that complements Seattle's successful public art projects. Murals have depicted simple city landscapes, Native American-inspired designs, the music and dance of a Trinidad festival, the U.S. flag, and an eagle souring over the Olympic mountains. For the agency, the murals have sent a signal that Metro cares about the communities it serves, and neighborhoods are much more willing to listen now when Metro proposes a new shelter.
A jogger runs past Eagle, Mountains, Sky.
New York: Artist designs floor-to-ceiling grilles for 467 subway stations
IN THE LATE 1980s fare evasion was rampant in New York City's subways. The system was losing approximately $60 million annually, and people jumping over and crawling under turnstiles contributed to a pervasive feeling that the system was out of control.
The transit police and operating departments at MTA New York City Transit developed a multifaceted approach to tackle the problem. This included a more intense police presence at the fare control line and a decision to increase the height of the grilles that separate paid and unpaid zones so they reached the floor to ceiling. These efforts coincided with a program to automate fare collection throughout the subway by submitting debit cards for coins and tokens, and the Division of Automated Fare Collection (AFC) was put in charge of replacing the grilles.
Utilitarian, straight, stainless-steel grilles had already been designed and fabrication was about to begin in spring 1989, when a concerned board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (which oversees NYC Transit) stepped in. She asked the senior staff person in charge of the AFC program to consider Arts for Transit's proposal to have an artist design the grilles. Since the MTA had had a positive experience with an artist-designed grille (by Valerie Jaudon) that had been installed in one station, he agreed to try.
That June, the AFC program director laid out the challenge at the first meeting with Arts for Transit. The grilles had to be modular; that is, they had to be designed as a kit of parts that could fit into more than 700 control areas. They had to be made of stainless steel. No bars could be more than five inches apart (avert the potential of children putting their heads through the bars). And the work had to be completed and approved within three months at a cost close to the estimate for the original design.
Artist Laura Bradley was hired to work on prototypes. Bradley had been selected competitively to create a permanent artwork for a station in Manhattan and was already studying grilles as an added element of her project. She submitted more than 25 preliminary designs for the prototype, half of which were immediately eliminated by Arts for Transit and AFC staff. Some, for example, included too many cuts and welds, which would increase costs; some included too many horizontal bars, which would tempt people to climb over the grilles.
Railings with medallion design are installed in older subway stations.
By late June two basic designs were presented to operating staff. Minutes from that meeting recall that the response was hardly encouraging: "Concerns were expressed regarding maintenance, fabrication, installation, strength, and weight. It was stressed that the alternative design must not negatively impact either the cost or installation schedule of the AFC program. "Bradley was open to making further revisions, which she prepared with critical assistance from NYC Transit staff in the AFC project, the Office of Station Design, and the Infrastructure Division (which would install the railings), and from design consultants Cooper Robertson + Partners. By August, two prototypes were approved.
The two designs responded to the different types of stations in New York's system. Grilles with medallion like designs were proposed for stations that had beaux-arts or arts-and-crafts designs; grilles with wavelike designs were proposed for "moderne" stations designed in the 1920s and 30s. Both railings were tested in stations before going into full production.
Bradley worked closely with agency staff and the fabricator throughout the implementation phases and helped make refinements.
For example, she redesigned the template for the controlled entrance gate in response to comments from disabled passengers. Because there were funds left in her contract, she was also asked to revise the design of a very bulky piece of station furniture, the high-wheel exit. Her refinements softened this revolving-door-like feature by curving the arms and substituting perforated metal for the solid steel that makes up the wheel's sides. Again many divisions (including AFC, police, revenue, design, and system safety) reviewed and approved the drawings.
All these elements--grilles, gates, and wheels--will be installed throughout the subway's 467 stations, combining with new trains, station reconstruction, and the AFC system, to bring the subway into the twenty-first century. In the end, the artist-designed grilles cost slightly more than the straight railings would have, but NYC Transit felt the increase was justified. Some elements of the design, such as the curves and extra cuts and welds in the steel, added to the cost. But others, such as painting the grilles rather than polishing them, resulted in savings.
MTA officials had feared subway riders would complain about the increased height of the grilles. Instead, riders and critics alike have praised the new design as a positive element in the stations. "Arts for Transit, the same people who bring you music in the New York subway system... are making the stations more congenial in other ways," The New York Times remarked about the grilles. Clearly, the decision to soften the hardening of the control area was a good one.
FTA Circular 9400.1A
Subject: Design and Art in Transit Projects
2. Cancellation This circular cancels FTA Circular 9400.1, "Design and Art in Public Transportation Projects," dated 1-19-1981.
4. Applicability This circular applies to Federal assistance under 49 U.S.C. 5309, 5303, 5307, and 5311 (formerly Sections 3, 8, 9, and 18 of the Federal Transit Act, as amended) and note that under the flexible funding provisions of Title 23 U.S.C. funds may be transferred to selected FTA programs.
5. Policy The visual quality of the nation's mass transit systems has a profound impact on transit patrons and the community at large. Mass transit systems should be positive symbols for cities, attracting local riders, tourists, and the attention of decision makers for national and international events. Good design and art can improve the appearance and safety of a facility, give vibrancy to its public spaces, and make patrons feel welcome. Good design and art will also contribute to the goal that transit facilities help to create livable communities.
In updating this Circular, FTA articulates its commitment to fund quality design and art in mass transit projects and allows local agencies discretion in developing allocation of funds for these efforts within recommended parameters. FTA will fund the costs of design, fabrication, and installation of art that is part of a transit facility.
To create facilities that are integral components of communities, information about the character, makeup, and history of the neighborhood should be developed and local residents and business could be involved in generating ideas for the project. Artists should be encouraged to interact with the community and may even choose to work directly with residents and businesses on a project.
6. Areas of Application
7. Eligibility of Costs for Art in FTA-funded Projects
Case study credits
Writing, Photography, and History Projects
Sponsoring Agency: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Art Project Director: Pamela Worden
Photographer: Peter Hamblin
Port Ayers Station
Sponsoring Agency: Regional
Transportation Authority Project Director: Denise Hernandez, Fernando Benavidez (RTA), Alda Godines (Center for Hispanic Arts)
Artist: Alda Godines
Architect: Lugo O'Keefe and Associates (Oscar O'Keefe)
Engineer: Urban Engineering (Art Aguirre), BMW Engineering Landscape Architect: Robert Gignac Construction Manager: Govind and Associates
Photographs: Courtesy RTA
Staples Street Station
Sponsoring Agency: Regional Transportation Authority
Project Director: Steve Ortmann (RTA), Nora Sendejar (Creative Arts Center)
Artists: Ed Gates, Terri Compton
Architect: John Wright
Planner: Project for Public Spaces
Photograph: Courtesy Project for Public Spaces
MetroRail Green Line
Sponsoring Agency: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, Metro Art
Art Project Director: Maya Emsden
Architect: Escudero-Fribourg Architects
Engineers: Parsons Brinckerhoff
Artists: Carl Cheng, Meg Cranston, Charles Dickson, Daniel Martinez, Renee Petropoulos, Joe Sam, Richard Turner
Photographs: Courtesy MTA
9th Street Pedestrian Mall
Sponsoring Agency: Metropolitan Dade County Board of County Commissioners (Arthur E. Teele, Jr., Chair)
Participating Agencies: Metro-Dade Transit Agency (Edward Colby, Director), Dade County Art in Public Places (Vivian Donnell Rodriquez, Director), Dade County Department of Facilities and Development Management (Diana Gonzalez, Director), Dade County Public Works (Armando Vidal, Director), City of Miami Commission
Artist: Gary Moore
Landscape Architect: Wallace, Roberts and Todd (Gerald C Marston, ASLA, with Patrea St. John, Kevin Might, Michael Del Giudice, Bart McElfresh, Robin Garcia)
Engineer: Metric Engineering Planning Surveying Co.
Contractor: Community Asphalt Corp.
Community Advisory Panel: Overtown Advisory Committee (Dorothy Jenkins Fields, chair).
Photographer: Gary Knight Associates Inc.
Automated Fare Collection Subway Grilles
Sponsoring Agencies: Metropolitan Transportation Authority, MTA New York City Transit
Project Directors: Wendy Feuer, MTA Arts for Transit and Facilities Design, Pierce Williams, NYC Transit Division of Automated Fare Collection
Artist: Laura Bradley
MTA: Ronay Menschel (former Board Member)
NYC Transit: Russ Broshous, Paul Katz, Steve Morris, Bob O'Brian
Design Consultant: Don Clinton, Partner, Cooper Robertson + Partners
Photographer: Peter Hamblin
Washington Park Station Construction Fences
Sponsoring Agency: Tri-Met, Westside MAX Public Art Program Rebecca Banyas, Public Art Manager Eloise MacMurray, Public Art Director, Regional Arts and Culture Council Amy Carlsen Kohnstamm, Community Affairs, Westside MAX
Curator: Kristy Edmunds
On-site Coordinator: Barbara Berger
Artists: Rick Austin, Manda Beckett, Jim Blashfield, Michael Brophy, Rebecca Campbell, Judy Cooke, Kay French, Gregory Grenon, Mary Josephson, David Hapgood, Stephen Hayes, Angela Medlin, William Park, Lucinda Parker, Laura Ross-Paul, Phil Sylvester, Margot Thompson
Artist Selection Committee: Kristy Edmunds, Terri Hopkins, Amy Carlsen Kohnstamm, Norie Sato
Architect: Zimmer Gunsel Frasca Partnership
Engineers: Parsons Brinckerhoff (Bill Bieker, Gary Hartnett, Tom Plant), Tri-Met (Carl Zeitz)
Contractor: Frontier Traylor Joint
Photographers: Mark Barnes, Tim Jewett
Sponsoring Agency: Bi-State Development Agency, Arts in Transit
Art Project Director: Ann R. Ruwitch (1988-1993), Sarah B. Smith(1993- )
Artists: Alice Adams, Gary Burnley, Leila Daw, Michael Jantzen, Anna Valentina Murch, Jody Pinto
Architects: Kennedy Associates/Architects Inc; Tod Williams and Billie Tsien
Landscape Architects: Austin Tao and Associates
Engineers: Sverdrup Corporation; Booker Associates; Kuhlman Design Group; Booz, Allen & Hamilton
Trackwork: LS Transit Systems
Photographer: Robert Pettus
19th Avenue Boarding Islands
Sponsoring Agencies: San Francisco Municipal Railway, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Art Commission (Public Art Program)
Project Managers: Ken Jew, Jim Nelson (San Francisco Municipal Railway), Jill Manton, Eleanor Beaton (Art Commission)
Artists: Leonard Hunter, Sheila Ghidini
Architect: Miguel Tello (San Francisco Municipal Railway, Engineering)
Engineer: Bill Gamlen (San Francisco Municipal Railway, Engineering)
Community Facilitator: Karen Silverman (San Francisco Municipal Railway, Community Affairs Department)
Photographer: Peter Hamblin
New Bus Fleet
Sponsoring Agency: King County Department of Transportation
Art Project Director: Carol Valenta
Design Team: Karen Anderson, Danilo Bonilla, Jon Hersh, Pam Lund, Fred Metz
Metro Arts Committee: Louise Miller (Chair), Ruth Askey, Lynn Basa, Elizabeth Conner, Eileen Gruhn, Susan Harris, Rose Lee, Samaj, Catherine Unseth.
Metro Employee Bus Design Task Force Division Representatives: Emmett Heath, Mike Voris (Capital Planning and Development); Robert Wade, Jane Glascock (Research and Market Strategy); Gary Larson (Community Relations and Communications); Wayne Hom, Bob Carroll (Service Development); Craig Clark, Jim Nale, Bob Liddel, Mark Kelly (Vehicle Maintenance); Linda Wraith, Sharron Shinbo (Sales and Customer Service); Dan Williams (Corporate Communications); Gary Gibson (Graphics); Vic Kaufman, Doug Thompson, Ilene McCune, Marilyn Davis (Operations); Sue Stewart, Jerry LaBorde (Safety).
Manufacturer: Gillig Corp.
Photographer: Peter Hamblin
Bus Shelter Mural Program
Sponsoring Agency: King County Department of Transportation (Transit Division, Service Development Section, Comfort and Safety Unit)
Program Manager: Dale Cummings
Project Coordinator: Patt Comstock
Photographer: Peter Hamblin
Art in mass transit systems
The following cities, counties, and regions have, or are planning to have, art as part of their bus or rail systems. In some cases the agencies have an ongoing program that commissions permanent and temporary art, other agencies hire art consultants to assist with the art component of specific projects. We apologize if we have missed any projects or programs.In place
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation
P.O. Box 194
Los Angeles, California 90053
Joe Tyler, University Drive, Tempe, Arizona
Daniel Joshua Goldstein, Colma Station, San Francisco, California
Bay Area Rapid Transit District
800 Madison Street
P.O. Box 12688
Oakland, California 94604-2688
Sacramento Regional Transit
1400 29th Street
P.O. Box 2110
Sacramento, California 95812-2110
County of San Diego
Department of Public Works
5555 Overland Avenue #0380
San Diego, California 92123
San Francisco Municipal Railway
949 Presidio Avenue
San Francisco, California 94118
Metro-Dade Transit Authority
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 1510
Miami, Florida 33128-1982
Broward County Mass Transit
3201 West Copans Road
Pompano Beach, Florida 33069
Hillsboro Area Regional Transit Authority
201 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1600
Tampa, Florida 33602
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
2424 Piedmont Road, N.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30324
Restored facade, 5 Points Station, Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago Transit Authority
Merchandise Mart Plaza
P. O. Box 3555
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Maryland Department of Transportation
Mass Transit Administration
6 Saint Paul Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202-1614
Mark Sullivan, Johns Hopkins Hospital Station, Baltimore Maryland
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
10 Park Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Kirk Newman, Michigan Avenue Station, Detroit, Michigan
Detroit Transportation Corporation
The People Mover
Art in the Stations
150 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Bi-State Development Agency
Arts in Transit
707 North First Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63102-2595
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Art and Architecture Program
1 World Trade Center,
New York, New York 10048
181 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Beverly Pepper, South Campus Station, Buffalo, New York
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Arts for Transit and Facilities Design
347 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10017
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Arts in Transit
615 Superior Avenue, W.
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation
District of Oregon
Westside MAX Public Art Program
710 Northeast Holladay
Portland, Oregon 97232
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
1234 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
Port Authority of Allegheny County
2235 Beaver Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233-1080
Albert Paley, Wood Street Station, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ed McGowin, Hampton Station, Dallas, Texas
Corpus Christi Regional Transit Authority
1812 South Alameda
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Art and Design Program
P.O. Box 660163
Dallas, Texas 75266-0163
P.O. Box 659
Olympia, Washington 98507
King County Government
Department of Transportation,
821 Second Avenue
Seattle, Washington, 98104-1598
Regional Transportation District
1600 Blake Street
Denver, Colorado 80231
New Jersey Transit
One Penn Plaza East
Newark, New Jersey 07105-2246
Metropolitan Transit Authority
Houston, Texas 77208-1429
Utah Transit Authority
221 West 2100 South
South Salt Lake, Utah 84115
Federal Transit Administration
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20590
Project Director: Wendy Feuer, Director Arts for Transit and Facilities Design New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority; with the assistance of Belinda M. Kane and Holly Vandervort, FTA; Kendal Henry and Monica Hudson, MTA.
Design: 212 Associates
Editor: Todd W. Bressi
Photographer: Peter Hamblin (unless otherwise noted)
The Driver's Seat, sculpture at intermodal facility, Portland, Oregon.