The glass stair tower at the new housing project on 10th and Mission is an architectural gesture that is visible to both pedestrians and motorists for several blocks along Mission St. Veil, which hangs behind the glass curtain wall of the tower, elevates this architectural feature to the status of beacon in the City through the use of color.
Viewed at night from the outside, the tower has a gentle glowing presence, and the work resembles translucent drapes hanging within the tower. Its colors migrate from twilight blue at the top to sunset orange at the bottom. This gradation suggests the reflection of an evening sky. The effect is at once painterly while bearing a mild trace of the digital process used to generate it.
When viewed from inside the tower, southern light passes through the colored beads to cast light patterns onto the stair landings.
To construct Veil, over 60,000 transparent beads were threaded through thin cables to form “catenaries” that were hung in concentric patterns within each window. To this end, custom software was used to design the shape of the catenaries and precisely locate each bead within the composition like an individual pixel within a digital image.
Like its sister project Screen, this work delivers the aesthetic splendor of stained glass but without the delicacy and risk of damage. The catenaries are encased within a storm window system. In the event of damage, rather than replacing and entire pane of glass, each chain, as an individual element, can be swapped for a new one. The storm window glass system was produced by the building’s curtain wall contractor and also can be easily replaced and without consultation from the artist.