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North Berkeley Senior Center Public Art Project
A new public artwork is being commissioned for the entry plaza area of the renovated North Berkeley Senior Center. The renovation project will modernize the building and provide much needed upgrades to improve safety and functionality. In addition to artwork, the entry plaza will feature seating and planted areas and will be a space where building users can gather to socialize, play games and enjoy time spent outdoors.

The Civic Arts Program conducted a community engaged selection process to choose Masayuki Nagase’s artwork proposal for implementation. Masayuki Nagase proposed to create a variety of carved stone pavers to be integrated into plaza’s paving and a large carved stone table-bench element to be located in the plaza’s seating area which will provide additional seating or a place to set things while plaza users gather in the area.

Masayuki Nagase’s proposal: "Song of Trees"  
When I visited the North Berkeley Senior Center, I could feel this place vitalized so many people's lives in a variety of ways. Since I always work with the theme of nature I envisioned how throughout history, people would choose a prominent tree as a spiritual marker and a gathering place for their community. Trees are the longest living organisms on earth. They are essential, creating oxygen for all life. Trees carry the essence of abundance, growth, and rebirth. I chose the tree as the main metaphor of the artwork representing unity, community and diversity. The North Berkeley Senior Center's essence is like the deep-rooted trees that endure and nourish and inspire us. Additionally, I propose to have a design community workshop where I can find out what inspires the community here about nature and trees. I would like to then integrate meaningful quotes or poems that community members choose and integrate into the artwork in the plaza.


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The artwork consists of three elements located in and around an entry plaza for the main building. The 1st elements are two stone panels placed in the walls for the 2 main entrance walkways into the entry plaza. Each panel will have a design of 2 different types of trees and these panels will act as visual markers for visitors. Material: Granite. Color: Dark gray, Black. Panel dimensions: Width 4 ft. Height 2 ft.

The 2nd element is a stone table-bench with a design based on the Redwood tree and placed in the entry plaza. This element represents Community. This element represents community. Material: Granite. Color: Dark gray, Black. Dimension: Diameter 5 ft. Height 18 inches.

The 3rd element is a series of circular stone pavers with images of varied types of trees and placed in the entry plaza. These pavers represent Diversity. Material: Granite. Color: Dark gray, Black. Dimensions: Series of 7 pavers. Diameter ranges from 12 inches to 3 ft.

There were three finalists for this project: Aileen Barr, Mildred Howard and Masayuki Nagase. You may view the other proposals here:


ALIEEN BARR Public Art Proposal:   "Cultivate"

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My proposal includes 5 areas for tile panels: Two tile panels wrapping the entrance to the building, 8' x 11' approx.; Two tile panels at the handicap ramp retaining walls, 16' x 2' approx.; and Tiled risers at the Plaza entry stairway, 5 steps 12' x 6' approx. These tile panels act as welcoming markers for the newly renovated center. The panels can be viewed from all entrances. The panels will have a flowering stem motif, with each flower varied in shape, texture and color. The uniqueness of the flower designs celebrates and represents the diverse community that the center serves and supports. The panels will be created with handmade tile and cut commercial tile. The tiles will be fabricated at the artist’s workshop in San Francisco and will be attached to a mesh panel. The panels will then be transported to the site and installed by a professional tiler. High grade thin set and epoxy grout, such as Laticrete, will be used in the installation. The artist will oversee the installation. Ideally the tile areas at the retaining wall and the doorway would be recessed to the panels. This would ensure that the panels are flush with the walls. The proposal rendering here is shown without plantings in order to better see the proposed artwork, however the North Berkeley Senior Center entry plaza area will have plantings.


MILDRED HOWARD Public Art Proposal:    

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I am delighted to submit this proposal to create an art installation for the North Berkeley Senior Center. The center has provided services to the community for numerous years and I am pleased the building will be undergoing renovations. It may be hard to believe, but I can actually remember when it was originally built along with many other senior centers in Berkeley. My proposal will render lines of original poetry on the North Berkeley Senior Center facade, summoning themes of warmth and community while acknowledging the rich indigenous history of the surrounding area. The words depicted on the board are merely illustrative examples of the visual approach, where each letter of a word will be unique and different than the rest. I plan to work with Malcolm Margolin and/or a Native American poet to develop a poem specifically for the site, taking thematic inspiration from the Ohlone Indians who once resided there. I hope to present the poem beforehand to a select number of staff and seniors from the center. Fabricated from bronze or brass at Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, the words of the poem will fade in and out of the surface of the building’s design, cascading across its surface and connecting the building’s contemporary residents with those who came before them. I look forward to discussing the project in more detail with you and the selection committee.




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