April 24, 2013

Forget The Flying Furniture, How About Pianos Hanging Overhead?


While Defenestration’s flying furniture days are numbered, a canopy of thirteen steel and glass piano sculptures has been commissioned to hang from the façade of 55 9th Street.

Designed by Brian Goggin with Dorka Keehn and entitled "Caruso's Dream," the permanent installation will extend up to nine feet over the sidewalk as proposed.


Per Section 136 of San Francisco's Planning Code, certain categories of building features are permitted to extend over the public right-of-way, but artworks are not. Today, San Francisco’s Planning Department will decide whether to approve the requested variances required for the canopy to be installed on the facade of the building that's on the way:

First Published: April 24, 2013 11:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Less is more in this increasingly interesting area. What's the point?

Posted by: Invented at April 24, 2013 11:19 AM

Clever way to get "free" advertising for the building, but I highly doubt it will be approved.

Posted by: sf at April 24, 2013 11:26 AM

It will be approved, but Planning will recommend changing the color scheme so that it frames elements of the neighborhood better.

Posted by: Joel at April 24, 2013 11:39 AM

Does it reflect the cultural diversity of the area? What does it do for economic justice?

Posted by: Mark at April 24, 2013 11:42 AM

Uh Earthquakes?

Posted by: OMN at April 24, 2013 1:26 PM

It may not be my favorite piece of art, but I hope it gets approved.

Posted by: lyqwyd at April 24, 2013 1:33 PM

It's unique -- I approve.

Posted by: Brad at April 24, 2013 1:36 PM

"Uh Earthquakes?"

Uh seismic standards?

Posted by: emanon at April 24, 2013 2:12 PM


I dont know enough about this to have any sense of this being approved or not

Posted by: Sam at April 24, 2013 2:22 PM

Injecting some fun and interest into a standard building facade - Bravo!

Posted by: Michael E at April 24, 2013 2:55 PM

What nit-wit spent time coming up with this? Looks vulgar and unnecessary. Is the building that poorly imagined that you need this sillyness?

SF has indeed jumped the shark.

Posted by: Cade at April 24, 2013 4:49 PM

Opinion on public art subjective, a lot more subjective than the term "jumping the shark." Here's an ipinion. It is too bad what the Internet is doing to writing. Monkey see, monkey don't.

Posted by: Anon at April 24, 2013 5:26 PM

The flying pianos make me respect the Crown Zellerbach building more every single day. A well designed modern structure should not need flying pianos to stimulate visual interest.

Speaking of new appreciations, although I was less than 8 years old when these two projects were built, at least the "Art" both in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency and the Embarcadero Center by John Portman seemed appropriate for where the pieces were located within the structures. Sure, both projects speak a design language of the 70s, but what is wrong with that? What is right is appropriate sized art pieces in settings that allow the public to pause and enjoy what is being displayed.

I feel the flying pianos would be best enjoyed passing by in a car at 35mph, for that is how much thought seemed to go into this project.

Posted by: NostalgicArchitect at April 24, 2013 5:58 PM

Nice idea for public art, I like it. Shame that it will be attached to such a boring building.

Posted by: Adam at April 24, 2013 6:58 PM

Like my mother always said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Posted by: apropos at April 24, 2013 7:20 PM

How 'bout moving the flying pianos to the awkward corner of the Civic Auditorium at the end of 9th Street. There would be more context -- and it would momentarily allow us to forget the ugliness of the backside of the building facing major Market Street -- and would add visual interest (such as it is) to the Mid Market stretch.

Posted by: Invented at April 24, 2013 7:23 PM

And I think the Crown Zellerbach building is a great building. It has lessons to teach, for sure, and I think I know some students in need.

Posted by: apropos at April 24, 2013 7:29 PM

Good grief, so many nay-sayers. A little whimsey on an otherwise boring building facade can surely be tolerated.

Posted by: monkey bizz at April 25, 2013 7:49 AM

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at April 25, 2013 9:43 AM

"What could possibly go wrong?"

I think that might be what the artist is trying to express here. A piano falling from the sky and onto the pavement is a cliche of early 20th century cartoon and slapstick comedy. Everyone knows it, no-one has ever experienced it.

The Straight Dope actually addressed this meme recently: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3101/has-anyone-ever-been-killed-by-a-falling-piano-or-anvil

I think that we can rest assured that this sculpture won't come crashing to the pavement. The same artist installed Defenestration which has proven to be quite solid.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 25, 2013 9:57 AM

Are flying pianos any stranger than the floating book lights on Columbus and Broadway? I rather enjoy that art; but I wonder how much negativity that idea was faced with...

Posted by: LessThan6Percent at April 26, 2013 4:54 PM

Approved . . . . They're installing them as of just last Friday 11/15. In fact, almost done.

Posted by: SFL at November 19, 2013 3:30 PM

It's abominable. Ugly doesn't even begin to describe it. In this day and age of high priced rents and purchases of homes, I simply can't get my head around why the building owner would shell out extra cash for something so frivolous and useless. I drive by this every day, and I have to say, I cannot even begin to understand what this is supposed to say to the SOMA community. Someone's pocket got very heavy with this variance/approval. It's shameful that our system is bogged down with non critical issues like this that serve no apparent purpose. Can you imagine if one of them falls on someone? So risky, and for what.

Posted by: SFAnnie at December 9, 2013 3:35 PM

And it looks like the artist has connected with another viewer.

SFAnnie - If you think this one through you will see that although your conscious mind doesn't understand this piece, the artist tunneled directly through and spoke to your subconscious.

Altogether a sign of a very successful piece.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at December 9, 2013 4:45 PM

Personally, I think Annie needs to dial back the hyperbole a bit (or stop driving down 9th Street).

Posted by: emanon at December 9, 2013 5:10 PM

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