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organograph, public art, san jose, Bill Washabaugh, Chico MacMurtie, Geo Homsy, climate model
Image © Organograph 2012

Bill Washabaugh, Chico MacMurtie, and Geo Homsy developed the climate clock with these fundamental elements in mind: the Clock, the Observatory, the Carbon Cycle Simulation, the Incubator Dome, the Time Trail Garden, and an external education component called the Seed to Plant Program. You can watch a video of the proposed installation here.

When asked about the inspiration for the project, Bill said the trio was all very interested in organic explorations of sculpture and wanted to create something that was iconic, beautiful, and rational. The team got together two or three nights a week to discuss various ways they could illustrate climate change data that would carry an impact long time in the future.”There was always a pint of Ben and Jerry’s involved,” Bill recounted.

The Clock is a 75-foot kinetic sculpture powered by large solar petals that open in the morning, harvest natural energy all day, and close again at night. A series of gears operate the entire mechanism of the structure: its daily rotation, opening and closing, standard timekeeping, simulation timekeeping, and its continuous slow movement along the garden path. Visitors are also welcome to walk into the open sculpture and observe the mechanisms of timekeeping in action. A spiral ramp and staircase ascends four levels to give observers an inside look at the carbon cycle, time trail garden, and the plant incubating mechanisms as well as the garden below and city beyond.

The project–a winner of San Jose’s International Climate Clock competition–is proposed to take over a downtown San Jose pedestrian plaza directly in front of Diridon Station, a major South Bay transportation hub and an area which is being redeveloped over the course of the next several years. It could cost as much as $20 million to build. Needless to say, the city hopes private donors will pay for the landmark. A replica of the Organograph will be on display from June through December 2012.

+ Organograph