Phase III and Phase IV Site Studies - Lake Merritt-Oakland Estuary Channel Project

deSoto/Roloff © 2006-12

Left: Estuary Channel Elliptic - Ohlone Epicenter / Phase III Site Study, 2008

Center: Phase IV Concept Study: LED Mesh Illumination/Reflection Project, 2008-11

Right: Excavations: Lewis deSoto & John Roloff, (three person show with Mark Brest Van Kempen) EgoPark Gallery, Oakland, CA, 2007

The Estuary Channel can be seen as a system of exchange evoking metaphors of time, nature and culture. Triggered by the tides and elliptical motion of heavenly bodies, the Channel facilitates the exchange of water between Lake Merritt, which is a collection basis for the ground water and aquifers of much of Oakland’s terrain, and the San Francisco Bay, and by extension the Pacific Ocean; the channel itself can be seen as a gigantic clock that echoes both local and global dynamics of nature and culture, further exemplified by geologic forces deep below the site. These dynamics are watermarked by the tide, a cycle of ebb and flow, commiserate with the Ohlone creation myths, and references to larger cycles of change. In this way these projects harken to prehistory and push towards the future. These metaphors are imbedded in the concepts and proposals of each element which are seen holistically as creating a synergistic whole.

The concentric elliptical orbits emanating from the site, propagate these concepts into regional and global domains as a symbolic and potentially real organizational principal of systemic and historical thought and enviornmental/cultural unity.

At the foci of an ellipse created by the 10th St.. bridge and 7th St.. channel passage, LED text panels describe conditions that reach back into geologic history and suggest future uplifts, tectonic activity and comparable human interventions and dynamics. The LED text panels on facing walls beneath the 10th street bridge are reversed and readable in the water because their orientation displayed on the panels is upside down and backwards. The water becomes the medium for these messages. The 7th street bypass channel text semantically echoes this inversion through its content and electronic programing linked to the 10th street bridge text. The luminosity of the bridge/channel spaces is enhanced by a shimmering, reflective coating of glass micro-sheres in a transparent matrix.

Along the centerline between the two bridge foci are planted two ceremonial Oaks in close harmony that speak to the human origins of Oakland. Around the circumference of the elliptical planter offset inline with the Hayward Fault is an ancient Ohlone story, a shadow of a tale about a great flood and the arrival of humanity in this area. These central oaks, like the epicenter of an earthquake, relates this story of an ancient flood to one that may return; as a result of global warming.

Budget and other contraints caused a consolidation of the project to the 10th St. Bridge in Phase IV of the project. The design was reduced to suspended, programmable, LED panels beneath the bridge. Numberous on-side studies were undertaken to determine if inverted text, reflected on the water was a viable system for the project. Work presented for Excavations, an exhibition at EgoPark Gallery in Oakland, gave some idea of the project concepts and studies for inverted text reflected on water.

The larger concepts from Ohlone Epicenter and selected elements from the earlier design studies would now be in programmed text, scrolling and reflected on the channel's water surface. Research as to the installation and operation of architectural mesh with programmable integrated LED lights determined a reasonable viability of the system. The economic downturn and various interpretations of Measure DD, continue to frustrate the process, which into early 2020 is still not resolved.


Additional information can be found at:

Project Overview/Final Stage

Preliminary Concepts/Research & Phase II Designs