Fourth Bore Medallion Design Competition:
East Bay Students Play a Part in Making History
August 10, 2102
The new Caldecott Fourth Bore will provide an important new link between Contra Costa and Alameda counties for generations to come once it opens in the fall of 2013. So it’s appropriate that students from those two counties will have a role in decorating the tunnel portals. The Caldecott public information team recently announced the winning designs for the Medallion Competition for the Fourth Bore project – created by six students ranging in age from 8 to 16, three of them from Alameda County, and three from Contra Costa County.
The young artists developed their designs along the theme of “Art Deco Revisited,” which pays tribute to the Art Deco medallions featured on the Caldecott bores from the 1930s. The hexagonal medallions will be cast in concrete, measure three feet in diameter and feature such motifs as a rising sun and the tunnel’s surrounding landscape. Those designed by the Contra Costa County students will grace the top of the Fourth Bore’s east portal in Orinda, while those designed by the Alameda County students will sit atop the west portal in Oakland. See the artists and their winning entries here: www.caldecott-tunnel.org/medallion.
Caltrans District 4 Landscape Architect Jeanne Gorham and Caldecott Fourth Bore Project Manager Cristina Ferraz conceived the idea of a public Medallion Competition during the design of the Fourth Bore in 2008.
"The competition was very much in keeping with Caltrans’ emphasis on context sensitive design," said Gorham. In early 2012, the public was asked to vote on six possible themes for the Medallion Design Competition. "There was a clear mandate for the ‘Art Deco Revisited’ theme, which celebrates the design theme of the medallions that currently adorn the portals of the first two Caldecott tunnels constructed in 1937, during the heyday of Art Deco movement," she said.
According to the Caldecott Fourth Bore website, Art Deco was born in the 1920s and “is characterized by simple and bold geometric shapes, clean lines and often features abstract symbols.”
The winning entries were selected by a panel of judges from among some 300 designs submitted this past spring. The judges were selected based on their expertise in design and architecture. The three judges for Alameda County were Catherine Kniazewycz, director of architecture at the University of California; H. Lynn Harrison, preservation director for the Art Deco Society of California; and Steven Huss, cultural arts manager for the city of Oakland. The judges for Contra Costa County were Erik Mortenson, chief preparator at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek; Regina Almaguer, public art consultant; and Jennifer Modenessi, who writes for the Contra Costa Times. MTC Commissioner Amy Worth, vice mayor for the city of Orinda, played an important role in championing the competition, engaging schools in the project and recruiting the judges.
The Medallion Competition was judged in two phases; during phase one, panelists reviewed entries from their respective counties electronically and ranked each based on a five-point rating system. During phase two, judges met to select the winning entries from their county, evaluating the finalists based on three criteria: adherence to artistic composition, originality and adherence to the contest theme, Art Deco Revisited. Judges were also cognizant of the need for the medallions to be visible to motorists.
"We all were conscious of images that were powerful, strong, clean, graphic, and those that could be read from the highway," said Alameda County panelist H. Lynn Harrison (see affiliation above).
In addition to the six winning designs, the judging panel honored 63 finalists.
The Caldecott Fourth Bore Project represents a partnership between the Federal Highway Administration, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), MTC, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Alameda County Transportation Commission.