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IA Projects - BOW


San Francisco, CA

BOW: something shaped in a curve

Hood Design Studio gives us a look at the inspiration behind the shape and concept of BOW, a public art sculpture commissioned and made possible by the San Francisco Arts Commission for San Francisco's new Fire Station #35. Currently in development and fabrication at Ignition Arts, the sculpture is expected to be installed at Pier 22 1/2 along the Embarcadero in May 2021.


Led by Creative Director and Founder Walter Hood, Hood Design Studio's efforts are part public art, part landscape design, and part urban research and planning. The studio's approach to research, community, and site seeks to upend the common and the standard within our planned environments, and instead create the unexpected, leading to possibilities previously unseen. Hood Design Studio's work deftly engages with and reveals the complex layers of ecology, culture, and history that make up our urban environments. Please take some time to explore their inspirational work on their website.


Being out on the water with the crew of Fire Station #35, I was fascinated with how the crew navigates through the bay, using depth charts without the reference of built objects. In a similar manner, BOW is a sculpture to showcase and commemorate the unseen cultural histories of the fireboats in the City of San Francisco.

--Walter Hood, Creative Director and Founder of Hood Design Studio

In its finished form, BOW will be a sculpture that can be experienced from multiple angles and perspectives, from around and from within. Its curved shape references the front of a boat, imbuing the work with a multitude of references and associations. The shape and location pay homage to the fire boats of San Francisco, honoring their ongoing role in the cultural history of the city, as well as their significant contributions during and after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. The sculpture includes a commemorative collage at the keel which spotlights the Fire Station history.

The images contained within the collage will be displayed within semi-transparent glass panels inlaid into the hull of the sculpture. Visible beyond the glass panels of BOW are the new Fire Station #35, the San Francisco Bay, and the Bay Bridge. The resulting effect is that of a three-dimensional living collage that showcases Fire Station #35 and its role in shaping the cultural landscape and history of the city.


At its front, BOW is an overlook, sticking out at the edge of the pier, providing spectacular views of the fireboats, the bay, and the bridge, all through the subtle lens of site's cultural history. The design includes an accessible ramp that invites passersby to pause, take in the view, and experience a moment of rest. The sculpture's central line is constructed from wood, creating a key visual element, as well as referencing another form of boat construction used in Ohlone tule reed boats.


From Hood Design Studio:

This project was made possible by the generous collaboration between Hood Design Studio and Ignition Arts. From evolving conceptual design through fabrication and cost feasibility studies, to refining shop drawings for construction administration processes, the IA team has offered a smooth and comprehensive approach to the design and fabrication phases of BOW. Working with the IA team has been a pleasure and we are greatly appreciative of everything they have done for the project to build a powerful work of art of the San Francisco Embarcadero.

Ignition Arts is always thrilled to have the honor of working on projects with Hood Design Studio. The studio's work is incredibly multi-faceted, complex, and inspirational, providing our studio with exciting new ideas, and opportunities for creatively solving challenging design questions. We are excited to share process imagery of this project as the sculpture moves from development into fabrication. Stay tuned!

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