SFSU Public Affairs Press ReleasePublished by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
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SAN FRANCISCO, February 7, 2000 --- Even the designer will admit it: This is not your typical entryway for a college campus. He has conceived an interactive, environmental work creating an air of openness when you enter the San Francisco State University campus. We are talking about a different kind of Sather Gate here.
But the design by a 28-year-old designer in Portland, Oregon is a winner. Julio Cristian Rocha's work was judged the best among entries from all over the world in a competition to design a "Gate" for San Francisco State at the corners of 19th and Holloway avenues, the main entryway to the center of campus and one of San Francisco's busiest intersections.
"I've tried to create a place that is engaging and would become a very special corner in the city," said Rocha, who works at StastnyBrun Architects in Portland. "It is something that is not your traditional archway." Rocha's work is indeed something special, agreed a panel of judges for the competition.
"The design gives the campus a monumental presence, while being open enough to invite entry and human participation," said Aaron Betsky, curator of architecture, design and digital projects at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and one of the judges of the S.F. State competition.
"Its form seems to come out of the ground, while abstracting the institutional buildings around it. It is like a three-dimensional screen or scrim onto which we can project our own interpretations of the university," Betsky said.
Rocha's work is part of an exhibit of 20 winning and noteworthy designs from the competition now on display through March 31 in the J. Paul Leonard Library on the S.F. State campus, 1600 Holloway Ave. in San Francisco. Admission is free.
The exhibit, titled "San Francisco State University Gateway Proposals: An 'Ideas Competition' for an Entryway at Nineteenth and Holloway Aves," marks the end of a yearlong search for a design to create a compelling landmark for a campus not widely known for the architecture of its buildings.
"We received some outstanding designs from around the world," said Rodger Birt, professor of humanities at S.F. State and creator of the design competition. "They came from firms large and small as well as from individuals. I have been amazed at the response and elated that we received designs that people really put a lot of thought into."
Birt, who has a doctorate in American Studies with a concentration in American architecture from Yale, created the design competition as a way to help the university celebrate its Centennial year during 1999. With all the attention focused on S.F. State that year, Birt felt it was time to launch his dream of helping S.F. State find its own "gate."
With backing from the university's Centennial Advisory Committee, Birt devised the competition's rules, produced brochures, helped create a Web site and pulled together a respected jury to judge the entries. After word went out last April, the Web site received more than 3,000 hits and Birt answered several hundred direct inquires, either by telephone or e-mail.
In all 49, detailed entries were received. They came from 11 states and 14 countries.
Birt's seven-member jury selected a first place prizewinner --- Rocha --- who earned $1,000 and a second place winner, Roberto Gomez of New York City, who was awarded $500. Four entries earned first honorable mention designation and eight were named honorable mention. All of those entries plus an additional six notable designs will be on display in the library. Rocha's design also has been included in a show at Portland State University.
The primary concern of the S.F. State jury was the design concept, Birt said. "But the jury also took into account the design's relationship to existing flora and structures in the area, its ability to enhance the transition from a busy intersection into the campus and how well the design reflected a contemporary vision for the future of the university," he said.
Birt hopes that the display of designs will build momentum both on and off campus to construct a fitting marker for the campus. "I have heard from San Francisco State alumni who are very proud of the university and who say they want to see something distinctive; something to say 'This is San Francisco State University'," Birt said.
San Francisco State University, founded in 1899, is a highly diverse community of 27,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff. It is one of the largest campuses in the nationally recognized 23-campus California State University.
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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs