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Artists Sought for Treasure Island Public Art

Posted by San Francisco Arts Commission ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Artists Sought for Treasure Island Public Art




The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) announces a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for artists interested in completing one of the first three large-scale, permanent public art commissions planned for a robust new art program on Treasure Island.  The program may include as many as thirty permanent works and multiple temporary art projects in all media over the next two decades. This is a high profile and unparalleled opportunity for artists to create bold and imaginative large scale sculpture for prominent locations on Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, concurrent with the island-wide redevelopment.

Budget:  $5,000,000 for three sites

Eligibility:  Professional, practicing artists (located anywhere)

Deadline:  October 16, 2017

The project site is a former Navy base located on Treasure Island and parts of Yerba Buena Island. Yerba Buena Island is a natural island which was used for military activities dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.  Treasure Island is a constructed island built in 1936-1937 by the Army Corps of Engineers as a Works Progress Administration project.  The Island was the site of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, and was intended to be the site of the San Francisco airport.  In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, the Island was taken by the federal government for use as a naval base.  Naval Station Treasure Island was a primary departure and receiving point for sailors deployed to the Pacific Theater.

Naval Station Treasure Island ceased operations in 1997, and the City and County of San Francisco subsequently approved plans for its redevelopment into a new San Francisco neighborhood overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), a nonprofit organization and city agency.

One percent of the construction cost of the buildings associated with the future private development is dedicated to TIDA for use in commissioning artwork exclusively for the island’s public spaces. TIDA’s recent adoption of the Treasure Island Arts Master Plan details how the program is to be administered by the San Francisco Arts Commission on TIDA’s behalf. The majority of the artworks to be commissioned will be placed within the open space; however there are also art opportunities at the site of historic buildings owned by TIDA. Construction is currently commencing on the island, which includes the locations of the three artwork project opportunities described in this RFQ.

Treasure Island’s early identity is inseparable from the spectacular and legendary artwork commissioned to create an island of grandeur and fantasy for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, known for its spirit of innovation, invention and optimism. Building upon this history, as well as upon its name as a source of inspiration, the vision for Treasure Island is to be a destination for the arts. Uniquely positioned in the midst of the San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island is a special place for artworks to be created and viewed through the lens of the island’s history, ecology, and breathtaking vistas and vantage points.  The intended audience for the Treasure Island Art Program includes residents from Treasure Island and the greater Bay Area as well as tourists and art aficionados from across the country and around the world.

The Treasure Island Arts Master Plan sets forth this vision for the program, a curatorial framework and objectives and identifies sites for numerous art opportunities. New permanent artwork placed in key locations will ensure an ongoing cultural legacy for the island. The first works to be commissioned will become iconic symbols that establish the credibility and quality of the nascent and ambitious art program. The sculptures will serve as gateways, landmarks, focal points and will become new destinations on the island.

The Treasure Island Art Program will be developed over a twenty-year period, linked to the funding and construction cycle of the project development. All permanent artworks commissioned for the island will be part of the collection of the Treasure Island Development Authority.


Building 1 Plaza (budget:  $1,000,000)

Building 1 (also known as the Administration Building) is an Art Deco building that was constructed for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. The building currently houses administrative offices for TIDA and office space for other firms involved in the project’s redevelopment. As part of the redevelopment, it is expected to serve in the interim as a visitor center and temporary grocery store; in the long-term, it will house office space, ground floor retail, community services space, and potentially a small museum of historical artifacts for Treasure Island. The 2.5-acre plaza has four landscaped quadrants, each of which has a unique design.

One or more artworks are to be placed within the landscaped quadrants of the proposed Building 1 Plaza. The artworks should acknowledge the importance of the landmark Building One while marking the transitional nature of the site through the use of contemporary materials and styles. The scale of the artwork should correspond to the scale of the building. A line of sight must be maintained from Building 1 to the Bay, and the original historic character-defining features of Building 1 and its landscape must be maintained.

The Waterfront Plaza (budget:  $2,000,000)

Waterfront Plaza is an important site that will serve as the gateway to Treasure Island. It is the primary point of entry to the island whether arriving by ferry, public transit, bicycle or vehicle. The 2.4 acre site will feature a public plaza, ferry shelter, and coastal landscape. Seating nodes and terraces flank the central Ferry Shelter to take full advantage of the views to the Bay and the San Francisco skyline.

This is a significant, high profile opportunity for a monumental sculpture or sculptural installation with multiple components that will be a beacon for the island to be located in the vicinity of Waterfront Plaza. This artwork will mark an important point of entry to the island, greeting residents and visitors upon their arrival. It should have an iconic presence and be grand and bold. It will be visible from the Bay and the San Francisco shoreline. This will be the first in a series of large scale sculptures to be installed over time along the shoreline of the adjacent waterfront linear park. Any artwork commissioned for this site must be of significant scale to command its Bay front location and should respond to the unique vantage points from which it will be viewed.

Yerba Buena Hilltop Park (budget:  $2,000,000)

Hilltop Park on Yerba Buena Island is a 5-acre park with 360 degree, panoramic views. As designed by Hood Design Studio Inc., the park serves as a cultural and ecological arboretum. It tells an evolutionary story with layers of time embedded (stairs, foundation, ruins) as the site flora transitions from a historic ecology to a more cultural landscape. The northern and southern hilltops act as foci of two distinct experiences within the arboretum. The southern hilltop retains and reveals the site’s ecological history, while the northern hilltop cultivates an attention to the island’s cultural history through remnants and a focus on the built landscape.

The northern hilltop offers an excellent opportunity for a large-scale sculpture to function as a focal point for the built landscape. This work should be monumental in scale whether through its verticality or through a horizontal series of related sculptural installations. The artwork created for Hilltop Park should enhance the viewer’s experience of the natural setting.


The purpose of this RFQ is to identify a pool of qualified artists from whom specific proposals will later be solicited. Arts Commission staff will screen applications submitted under this RFQ to establish a pool of qualified artists. The list of qualified artists will be presented to the Treasure Island Phase One Projects Selection Panel.

The panel will identify three finalists for each project opportunity who will be invited to develop conceptual site specific proposals after attending an orientation session with the project team and key stakeholders. Artists may be invited to develop proposals for more than one of the art opportunities. These finalists will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Arts Commission, under which they will be paid an honorarium of $3,000 plus travel reimbursement for development of each individual proposal. The Treasure Island Phase One Projects Selection Panel will reconvene to consider the finalists’ proposals in an interview format and will select one artist and an alternate for each of the three project sites for review and comment by the Arts Commission prior to presentation to the Treasure Island Art Steering Committee and Treasure Island Development Authority for approval.

Pre-Application Workshops
Two OPTIONAL pre-application workshops for these opportunities will be conducted by SFAC. One will take place on Treasure Island and the other at the SFAC’s offices, to discuss the following topics:

  • Treasure Island’s Art Master Plan objectives and the strategies for achieving these objectives
  • Information about the overall application and selection process
  • Review of potential sites
  • Technical assistance regarding the application
  • Contract requirements

The first workshop will be held on September 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM at the Art Commission’s offices.

401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125
San Francisco CA 94102

The second workshop will be held on September 21, 2017 at 5:30 PM on Treasure Island at the following location:

TICD/TMI Offices
1 Avenue of the Palms, Suite 216
San Francisco, CA  94130


  • Complete application submitted prior to the application deadline.
  • Artwork examples submitted represent the artist’s own original creative work.
  • The artist’s work reflects artistic excellence, innovation and originality, as evidenced by professional quality of craftsmanship and mastery of skills, techniques; professional approaches to processes and presentation, and/or communicate a unique vision or perspective.
  • The artist’s work is judged to be appropriate to the goals of the project and responsive to the Arts Master Plan’s Curatorial Framework.
  • The artist’s professional experience is adequate to meet the demands of the project. Qualifying activities would include some combination of the following: education and training as an artist, an exhibition record in museums, commercial art galleries, and/or non-profit art spaces, previous public or private commissions; or other related activities indicative of a professional art practice.
  • The artist is available to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project as required.
  • Assessed ability to meet project deadlines and to perform work in a timely and professional manner.
  • Results of reference checks for project finalists.

TIMELINE (subject to change)

  • Pre-Application Workshop in San Francisco:   September 11, 2017
  • Pre-Application Workshop on Treasure Island: September 21, 2017
  • RFQ Deadline:  October 16, 2017
  • Initial Phase One Projects Artist Selection Panel:  November, 2017
  • Artist Finalist Orientation:  December, 2017
  • Finalist Proposals Due:  February 2018
  • Final Phase One Projects Selection Panel:  Late February/March 2018
  • SFAC Visual Arts Committee (VAC) Review and Comment:  March 2018
  • Phase One Projects Artists Under Contract:  April/May 2018
  • Tentative Site Completion Dates: Artwork to be installed no earlier than the site completion date!
    • Yerba Buena Hilltop Park:  Spring 2019
    • Building 1 Plaza:  Spring 2020
    • Waterfront Plaza:  Spring 2020

Applications are available ONLY through SlideRoom, an online application system for calls for entry. There is no charge to artists for using SlideRoom. Please be sure to allow adequate time to submit your application, as technical difficulties can occur. Applications that are mailed, emailed, faxed or hand-delivered will not be considered. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Required application materials include:

1.  Letter of Interest:  One page maximum. This should be a summary of your artistic focus and professional career, especially as your background relates to this project. Do not make a specific proposal for a new commission.

2. Resume. If you are applying as a team, please include your team/studio resume. If that is not available, please combine the individual resumes (one right after the other) of each team member into one document.

3. Ten images of previous work.  SlideRoom accepts all image file types up to 5MB. Images should at least 72 dpi and no larger than 1500 x 1500 pixels. For team application, please indicate the lead artist for each project.

4. Image Descriptions:  When you upload your images, SlideRoom will prompt you to fill out image descriptions. Please include the title, medium, dimensions, and year for each work. You may also include a brief statement (2 sentences maximum) about each work. Check out our How to Apply to Calls for helpful tips on how to submit the most competitive application.

SlideRoom technical support is available Monday – Saturday by email, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PST),

QUESTIONS?  Arts Commission staff will be available to answer questions about this call until 5 p.m. (PDT) on the deadline date, October 16,, 2017. Please contact Aleta Lee at, or (415) 252 -2251. A record of all inquiries received during the announcement of the RFQ and the corresponding responses from the SFAC will be posted online.


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