Picture Perfect


Latest News

Picture Perfect

Real Estate Owners, Developers Tap Top-Tier Artists


The Boardwalk – a 545,000-square-foot, glass-encased office complex along Jamboree Road – has a luxe hotel vibe from its lobby decor to the concierge-type services for tenants such as Pathway Capital Management, Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt LLP and Propel Media Inc.

Highlighting the year-old Irvine project’s fine finishes is a series of artwork by notable artists including San Francisco-based Jim Campbell and Orange County resident Elizabeth Turk –  names rarely if ever found attached to an office building.

Dallas developer Trammell Crow Co., whose Newport Beach office headed The Boardwalk development, worked with art adviser Jeannie Denholm to make the collection possible; it was officially unveiled last month.

The Boardwalk’s offering is among the more notable arts-related addition to an area commercial property since the late Henry Segerstrom commissioned Isamu Noguchi for that artist’s California Scenario project in the early 1980s.

The 1.6-acre Costa Mesa project – also called Noguchi Garden –  is next to the Pacific Arts Plaza office complex now owned by Irvine Co. and widely considered one of the more important and publicly accessible outdoor sculpture areas in Southern California. Other notable art installations have come – and occasionally gone – to both the inside and outside of OC’s collection of buildings.

Irvine-based retailer Tilly’s Inc. worked with Costa Mesa based Vans Inc. and the Artists Republic gallery of Laguna Beach to get a 15,000-square-foot painting from Bay Area painter Zio Ziegler installed on a Tilly’s Spectrum-area building along San Diego (405) Freeway in 2015.

The Picasso-like painting was envisioned as a short-term project designed to remain up for three months. The public’s embrace of the project gave it a few extensions before eventually coming down in 2016. Owners and developers of other types of commercial  properties have gotten into the act too.

The developers of Costa Mesa’s Baker Block apartment complex aimed to distinguish their 240-unit project from other multifamily projects that have sprung up in Orange County  of late, so they turned to art.

Southern California street artist Shepard Fairey  – a founder of Irvine apparel maker Obey Clothing  who also created the iconic “Hope” posters used during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign – was enlisted to create an outsize mural on the exterior of the property, which fronts the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway. The resulting “Welcome Home” artwork unveiled in 2017, is the largest mural in Orange County, according to Irvine-based Red Oak Investments, which built the complex in a venture with L.A.-based Cityview.

This week, the Flight office development in Tustin will see work start for a series of murals going up on the outside of the property’s nearly completed buildings.

The six-week art installation – featuring the work of Bunnie Reiss, Shag, and  John Park – is “one of the coolest parts of the project”, according to Parke Miller, executive vide president  for the Costa Mesa-based office of Lincoln Property Co., the developer of Flight, OC’s first ground up creative-office project.

Game Changer

Tom Bak, senior managing director at Trammell Crow, said it’s uncommon for a developer to invest a significant amount of time and money into curating artwork for a commercial space but found it necessary for Boardwalk.

” I didn’t have a lot of money in mind to spend on art,” Bak said. “I just thought it would be part of the equation, but as I got myself more interested in this Boardwalk experience, I said to myself this is going to be a game-changer so it warrants using the savings we had.”

Bak declined to disclose how much was spent on art – the cost of the entire office development was previously estimated as approaching $200 million – but said he was able to increase the amount thanks to “substantial” savings over the course of the project’s construction, compared to its projected budget.

Denholm said the budget for amassing a corporate art collection can vary widely depending on the art’s location and scale of the project, but generally, it’s under $1 million.

Corporate art collections aren’t new. David Rockefeller is often cited as an example for having Chase Manhattan Bank acquire art in the 1950s and the city of Brea requires sculptures or art-oriented donations for many commercial projects, but over the years it has evolved as a way for companies to publicly tout their tastes and create conversation in their lobbies and conference rooms.

Denholm said with OC commercial buildings she’s starting to see “increased consciousness” from developers who are seeing art as more than just decor.

“The contemporary art market, in general, is really strong and I think people are starting to see the value,” she said. “We’ve got that great Shepard Fairey mural on the 55 [Freeway] and obviously that was a conscious decision because they understood … what art brings to some buildings.”

On the Boardwalk

Bak thinks the boardwalk buildings themselves stand as works of art. The 7.5 – acre Boardwalk’s two nine-story buildings are connected by a series of indoor and outdoor bridges, which allows the 30,000 square- foot floors to expand to 65,000 square feet of connected space, much larger than a typical office floor.

The property has outdoor meeting spaces with televisions, extensive landscaping, an onsite Sterling Service hospitality team of 10 and valet service at the property’s entrance.

Bak said part of taking a cue from the hospitality business meant rethinking how it would design building lobbies.

“When I walk into an office building, I would put my head down and walk right to the elevator. I wouldn’t look at anything,” he said. ” This is where we hired Jeannie. I wanted everybody to turn their heads and look at something like art and that art has to change every time so the experience changes.”

Denholm tapped Campbell, a Massachusettes Institute of Technology –  educated engineer turned artist, to create two installations for the property.

The first, in the North building is “Eroding Waves,” featuring more than 3,000 LED spheres hanging at various lengths displaying a video of swimmers moving back and forth. A San Francisco gallery has the work valued at $200,000 to $300,000.

The second piece, “Main Beach,” is in the South building’s lobby and is composed of several small, squared LEDs mounted against the wall that when stepping back show images of Main Beach in Laguna Beach, where Bak lives.

Campbell’s 2018 installation “Day for Night” on top of Salesforce Tower in San Francisco is considered one of the tallest public art installations in the U.S.

Turk works mainly with marble and for the North lobby curved a large piece of Carrara marble into the ribbon shape.

It’s her first major public art installation locally, Denholm said. Turk is a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, also referred to as a Genius Grant.

Artworks by Eric Johnson, Pierce Meehan, Andy Moses, and Susan Woodruff are also located in the building’s conference center.

An Eyeful

Denholm has been in the art business for more than 30 years, including working with The Broad Art Foundation for nine years,s as well as becoming a corporate art curator for AIG-Sun America Inc. and KB Home.

She has also worked with clients such as Irvine- based Taco Bell Corp., Chapman University, Burnham Benefits in Irvine and Versant Ventures in Newport Beach, and founded Corona Del Mar gallery Southern California Art Projects and Exhibitions, known as SCAPE, in 2013

Bak said in more than 30 years in the business he’s never seen a property toured by members of the public because of their interest in art.

“It was fun… artists don’t really put art into an office building so this was a huge adjustment for them, too, but… we wanted to create a unique and engaging experience for the marketplace.”

Author: Sabrina Hudson

Originally published in OCBJ