1245 Third Street
The new City and County Public Safety Building houses the police administrative headquarters, a relocated district police station, a new district fire station, San Francisco’s SWAT team and fleet vehicle parking. Part of the design included the First Responder Plaza at the corner on Third Street, designed by artist Paul Kos who was responsible for the Poetry Garden in SOMA.
In First Responder Plaza, Paul Kos created a design around three central motifs standing for Police, Fire and Paramedic Services. A bronze bell, a seven point star and a conifer as a natural flag pole. According to Kos, “The three main elements comprise my three tenors, all unique icons, all on the same stage at the same time.”
The “All Is Well Bell” is suspended from a large red arch. Kos was inspired to incorporate a bell into his design after seeing multiple bells at the Fire Department Museum as well as in the Fire Department Repair and Maintenance shops he visited while doing research for this project.
Kos worked with bell foundry, Paccard, in Annecy, France the same foundry that cast many of the very large bells for the Campanile at UC Berkeley. (American bell foundries no longer cast large bells). The bell cost $300,000.
The seven point star, made of black granite was identified early on in his process as a respectful and poetic symbol for the Police, because it represents the department’s core values: truth, justice, fortitude, temperance, prudence, tolerance and brotherhood. The 22″ high star serves as a bench, as well as a symbolic focal point.
When full grown the conifer, the third element, will serve to provide a human touch.
The art budget for the Public Safety Building was $3.2 million. While it is difficult to determine through public records exactly what was spent on the plaza alone, it appears to be in the neighborhood of $850,000.