Request for Qualifications

Treasure Island: Phase 1 Art Opportunities

Treasure Island Arts Master Plan implementation of Phase 1 projects for large scale, site-specific art installations at Building 1 Plaza ($1 million), Waterfront Plaza ($2 million) and Yerba Buena Hilltop Park ($2 million).

View of Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island from East Bay
Photo by Ethan Kaplan

Project Overview

Announcing the first three large scale permanent public art commissions planned for a robust new art program on Treasure Island that may include as many as thirty permanent works and multiple temporary art projects in all media over the next two decades. This is a high profile and unparalleled opportunity for artists to create bold and imaginative large scale sculpture for prominent locations on Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island concurrent with the island-wide redevelopment.

Project Description

Uniquely positioned in the midst of the San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island is a special place for artworks to be created and viewed through the lens of the island’s history, ecology and its breathtaking vistas and vantage points. Treasure Island’s early identity is inseparable from the spectacular and legendary artwork commissioned to create an island of grandeur and fantasy for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, known for its spirit of innovation, invention and optimism. Building upon this history as well as its name as a source of inspiration, the vision for Treasure Island is to be known as a destination for the arts.  The Treasure Island Arts Master Plan sets forth this vision for the program, a curatorial framework and objectives and identifies sites for numerous art opportunities. New permanent artwork placed in key locations will ensure an ongoing cultural legacy for the island. The first works to be commissioned will become iconic symbols that establish the credibility and quality of the nascent and ambitious art program. The sculptures will serve as gateways, landmarks, focal points and will become new destinations on the island.

Historic Image for WEB.jpg

The Treasure Island Arts Master Plan will guide the implementation of the Treasure Island Art Program, which is funded by a fee equal to one percent of the construction costs of the private buildings to be built as part of Treasure Island’s redevelopment. The funds will be used exclusively to enhance and activate the public realm with artwork and ongoing art programming. The Treasure Island Art Program will be developed over a twenty-year period linked to the funding and construction cycle of the project development. All permanent artworks commissioned for the island will be part of the collection of the Treasure Island Development Authority.

The intended audience for the Treasure Island Art Program includes residents from Treasure Island and the greater Bay Area as well as tourists and art aficionados from across the country and around the world. Artists interested in applying for these three opportunities should review the Arts Master Plan to become acquainted with the vision for the program and its goals and objectives.

Curatorial Framework

The Arts Master Plan establishes the following Curatorial Framework that will guide the selection and development of the artworks commissioned for the Island:

  • Use the name of the island as a source of inspiration.
  • Consider the island’s unique vantage point in the Bay, amidst the Bay Bridge, San Francisco and the East Bay and the notion of art on the edge, where the land meets the sea.  
  • Honor the place– its history and stories showcasing the innovation that characterized the original vision for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.
  • Respond to Treasure Island’s unique ecology and environmental conditions.
  • Feature projects by local, national and international artists.

Context and Project Background

The project site is a former Navy base located on Treasure Island and parts of Yerba Buena Island. Yerba Buena Island is a natural island which was used for military activities dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.  Treasure Island is a constructed island built in 1936-1937 by the Army Corps of Engineers as a Works Progress Administration project.  The Island was the site of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, and was intended to be the site of the San Francisco airport.  In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, the Island was taken by the federal government for use as a naval base.  Naval Station Treasure Island was a primary departure and receiving point for sailors deployed to the Pacific Theater.  

Naval Station Treasure Island ceased operations in 1997, and the City and County of San Francisco subsequently approved plans for its redevelopment into a new San Francisco neighborhood overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), a nonprofit organization and city agency.  The redevelopment is being undertaken through a public-private partnership between TIDA and a private master developer, Treasure Island Community Development, a joint venture between Lennar Corporation and Stockbridge Capital, Wilson Meany, and Kenwood Investments.  

The  project will deliver enormous public benefits to the City of San Francisco, including more than 8,000 housing units of which 2,100 are affordable;  300 new acres of parks and open space, the largest parks expansion in the City since Golden Gate Park in 1871; replacement of the failing Navy roads and utilities with all new infrastructure; and an innovative transportation plan that will expand transit opportunities (including adding ferry service) and discourage the use of private automobiles to limit congestion on the Bay Bridge.  Highlights of the project’s features include:

Open Space.  The 300 acres of new open space (roughly 1/3 the size of Golden Gate Park) is widely varied, including natural habitat preservation and trails, formal civic plazas, active sports and recreation, water-oriented facilities, and a demonstration organic farm. Multiple art opportunities are located throughout the open space.  

The 8,000 new homes will include:

  • 27.2 percent of the units at below-market affordable rates, with 435 units for formerly homeless individuals and families through the innovative and nationally-recognized Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative program.  
  • A diversity of housing types and community amenities designed to attract and retain San Francisco families.

Retail and Commercial Development.  The housing will be clustered around a vibrant mixed-use commercial core located at the entryway to Treasure Island.   New ferry service will dock in front of historic Building 1. New retail and restaurant space between the ferry quay and Clipper Cove will connect historic Building 1 to historic Buildings 2 and 3, which will be reused for commercial and community-serving purposes.  

Sustainable Development.  The project’s deep commitment to sustainability is reflected in the project’s land plan, which clusters development in dense, walkable, bike-friendly neighborhoods near transportation and by its commitment to solar and renewable energy resources; high energy conservation targets; state of the art stormwater treatment to improve Bay water quality; and other green infrastructure.  In recognition of its approach to sustainable development, the project has won the Governor’s 2008 Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in the Sustainable Communities category, the American Institute of Architect’s 2009 Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design, and was selected as one of sixteen projects world-wide to be a partner with the Clinton Climate Initiative and US Green Building Council in their Climate Positive Development Program. The project is certified as LEED-ND Platinum, and is both the highest scoring and largest project ever to achieve this status.

Commitment to Art.   One percent of the construction cost of the buildings associated with the future private development is dedicated to TIDA for use in commissioning artwork exclusively for the island’s public spaces. TIDA’s recent adoption of the Treasure Island Arts Master Plan details how the program is to be administered by the San Francisco Arts Commission on TIDA’s behalf. The majority of the artworks to be commissioned will be placed within the open space; however there are also art opportunities at the site of historic buildings owned by TIDA. Construction is currently commencing on the island, which includes the locations of the three artwork project opportunities described in this RFQ.

Further information about the redevelopment of Treasure Island can be found on the City’s website.

Art Project Opportunities

1. Building 1 Plaza, on Treasure Island


Map and Arial view of Building 1 Plaza on Treasure Island

Site Description
Building 1 (also known as the Administration Building) is an Art Deco building that was constructed for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. The building currently houses administrative offices for TIDA and office space for other firms involved in the project’s redevelopment.  As part of the redevelopment, it is expected to serve in the interim as a visitor center and temporary grocery store; in the long-term, it will house office space, ground floor retail, community services space, and potentially a small museum of historical artifacts for Treasure Island.  
In the initial phase, exterior improvements to Building 1 are proposed, including replacing the existing surface parking lot with a new plaza designed by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects (ACLA).   ACLA’s design is for the plaza to act as the civic focal point of Treasure Island with a large flexible space for gatherings and spectacular views of the Bay and the city beyond. Its broad central walkway, flanked by a grid of date palms, is a primary axial pathway linking the Ferry Plaza, immediately to the west, to the retail district that lies immediately behind Building 1 to the east. The 2.5-acre plaza has four landscaped quadrants, each of which has a unique design.

Art Opportunity
One or more artworks are to be placed within the landscaped quadrants of the proposed Building 1 Plaza.  The artworks should acknowledge the importance of the landmark Building One while marking the transitional nature of the site through the use of contemporary materials and styles. The scale of the artwork should correspond to the scale of the building. A line of sight must be maintained from Building 1 to the Bay, and the original historic character-defining features of Building 1 and its landscape must be maintained. 

Project Budget
The budget for Artwork Design, Fabrication and Installation of one or more sculptures for this site is $1,000,000.

2. The Waterfront Plaza, on Treasure Island

Waterfront Plaza.jpg

Waterfront Plaza Map and Arial View

Site Description
Waterfront Plaza is an important site that will serve as the gateway to Treasure Island. It is the primary point of entry to the island whether arriving by ferry, public transit, bicycle or vehicle. The 2.4 acre site will feature a public plaza, ferry shelter, and coastal landscape.  Seating nodes and terraces flank the central Ferry Shelter to take full advantage of the views to the Bay and the San Francisco skyline.  The plaza has been designed by AECOM.  

Art Opportunity
This is a significant, high profile opportunity for a monumental sculpture or sculptural installation with multiple components that will be a beacon for the island to be located in the vicinity of Waterfront Plaza. This artwork will mark an important point of entry to the island, greeting residents and visitors upon their arrival. It should have an iconic presence and be grand and bold. It will be visible from the Bay and the San Francisco shoreline. This will be the first in a series of large scale sculptures to be installed over time along the shoreline of the adjacent waterfront linear park. Any artwork commissioned for this site must be of significant scale to command its Bay front location and should respond to the unique vantage points from which it will be viewed.  

Project Budget 
The budget for Artwork Design, Fabrication and Installation for this opportunity is $2,000,000.

3. Yerba Buena Hilltop Park, on Yerba Buena Island


Hilltop Park Map and Arial View

Site Description
Hilltop Park sits atop Yerba Buena Island, which is a natural island whose military history dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. Rising up to 350 feet above the Bay, Yerba Buena Island (YBI) is characterized by its steep slopes, wooded hillsides, and breathtaking views.  Redevelopment on YBI will be limited in footprint, with a maximum of 300 homes and a small 50-room hotel.  The majority of YBI will be preserved as open space, crowned by Hilltop Park.  

Hilltop Park is a 5-acre park with 360 degree, panoramic views.  As designed by Hood Design Studio Inc., the park serves as a cultural and ecological arboretum. It tells an evolutionary story with layers of time embedded (stairs, foundation, ruins) as the site flora transitions from a historic ecology to a more cultural landscape. The northern and southern hilltops act as foci of two distinct experiences within the arboretum. The southern hilltop retains and reveals the site’s ecological history, while the northern hilltop cultivates an attention to the island’s cultural history through remnants and a focus on the built landscape.

Art Opportunity
The northern hilltop offers an excellent opportunity for a large-scale sculpture to function as a focal point for the built landscape. This work should be monumental in scale whether through its verticality or through a horizontal series of related sculptural installations. The artwork created for Hilltop Park should enhance the viewer’s experience of the natural setting.  

Project Budget
The budget for Artwork Design, Fabrication and Installation for this opportunity is $2,000,000.

Selection Process

As described below, the purpose of this RFQ is to identify a pool of qualified artists from whom specific proposals will later be solicited. Arts Commission staff will screen applications submitted under this RFQ to establish a pool of qualified artists. The list of qualified artists will be presented to the Treasure Island Phase One Projects Selection Panel, which consists of:

  • One member appointed by the Treasure Island Director
  • One member appointed by the Arts Commission
  • One member appointed by the Treasure Island Community Development
  • Two arts professionals appointed by the Treasure Island Art Steering Committee.

The panel will identify three finalists for each project opportunity who will be invited to develop conceptual site specific proposals after attending an orientation session with the project team and key stakeholders. Artists may be invited to develop proposals for more than one of the art opportunities.  These finalists will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Arts Commission, under which they will be paid an honorarium of $3,000 plus travel reimbursement for development of each individual proposal. The Treasure Island Phase One Projects Selection Panel will reconvene to consider the finalists’ proposals in an interview format and will select one artist and an alternate for each of the three project sites for review and comment by the Arts Commission prior to presentation to the Treasure Island Art Steering Committee and Treasure Island Development Authority for approval. Artist’s proposals will be evaluated by a fine arts conservator to identify future maintenance and conservation needs. Any artwork proposed for the island must be designed for the Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island context in terms of the materials used and the structural integrity of the work which will have to withstand the salt air and strong winds that are characteristic of the maritime environment. Artwork proposals will also be evaluated at subsequent stages of design for seismic stability.   All Arts Commission, Treasure Island Development Authority meetings and Public Art Selection Panel meetings are open to the public and are posted on the City’s website at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. To check the meeting schedule for public art projects, please go to the Arts Commission calendar or the Treasure Island Development Authority website.

Pre-Application Workshops
Two pre-application workshops for these opportunities will be conducted by SFAC. Workshops are not mandatory to attend to apply for the RFQs. One will take place on Treasure Island and the other at the SFAC’s offices to discuss the following topics:

  • Treasure Island’s Art Master Plan objectives and the strategies for achieving these objectives
  • Information about the overall application and selection process
  • Review of potential sites
  • Technical assistance regarding the application
  • Contract requirements

The first workshop will be held on September 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM at the Art Commission’s offices.
San Francisco Arts Commission
401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125
San Francisco CA 94102

Please RSVP for the first workshop in San Francisco.

The second workshop will be held on September 21, 2017 at 5:30 PM on Treasure Island at the following location: 

TICD/TMI Offices
1 Avenue of the Palms, Lobby
San Francisco, CA  94130

Please RSVP for the second workshop on Treasure Island. 

You may find the pre-application workshop materials below:
Treasure Island Development and RFQ Site Locations Presentation 
Treasure Island Arts Master Plan and RFQ Overview Presentation


Artist Selection Considerations

  • Complete application submitted prior to the application deadline.  
  • Artwork examples submitted represent the artist’s own original creative work.
  • The artist’s work reflects artistic excellence, innovation and originality, as evidenced by professional quality of craftsmanship and mastery of skills, techniques; professional approaches to processes and presentation, and/or communicate a unique vision or perspective.  
  • The artist’s work is judged to be appropriate to the goals of the project and responsive to the Arts Master Plan’s Curatorial Framework.
  • The artist's professional experience is adequate to meet the demands of the project. Qualifying activities would include some combination of the following: education and training as an artist, an exhibition record in museums, commercial art galleries, and/or non-profit art spaces, previous public or private commissions; or other related activities indicative of a professional art practice.
  • The artist is available to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project as required.  
  • Assessed ability to meet project deadlines and to perform work in a timely and professional manner. 
  • Results of reference checks for project finalists.

Project Timeline

Subject to change

RFQ Issued July 28, 2017 
Pre-Application Workshop in San Francisco September 11, 2017 
Pre-Application Workshop on Treasure Island September 21, 2017 
RFQ Deadline October 16, 2017 
Initial Phase One Projects Artist Selection Panel November, 2017 
Artist Finalist Orientation December, 2017 
Finalist Proposals Due February 2018 
Final Phase One Projects Selection Panel Late February/March 2018 
SFAC Visual Arts Committee (VAC) Review and Comment March 2018 
TIASC Approval TBD 
TIDA Approval       TBD 
Phase One Projects Artists Under Contract April/May 2018 


Tentative Site Completion Dates (Subject to change)

BUILDING 1 PLAZA Spring 2020


The artworks for each of these sites will be installed no earlier than the site’s anticipated completion date.


How To Apply

Applications are available through SlideRoom, an online application system for calls for entry. There is no charge to artists for using SlideRoom. Please be sure to allow adequate time to submit your application as technical difficulties can occur. Applications that are mailed, emailed, faxed or hand-delivered will not be considered. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline. Application materials include:

1. Letter of Interest

  • One page maximum.
  • This should be a summary of your artistic focus and professional career, especially as your background relates to this project. Do not make a specific proposal for a new commission.

2. Resume

  • If you are applying as a team, please include your team/studio resume. If that is not available, please combine the individual resumes (one right after the other) of each team member into one document.

3. Ten images of previous work

  • SlideRoom accepts all image file types up to 5MB. Images should at least 72 dpi and no larger than 1500 x 1500 pixels
  • For team application, please indicate the lead artist for each project.

4. Image Descriptions

  • When you upload your images, SlideRoom will prompt you to fill out image descriptions. Please include the title, medium, dimensions, and year for each work. You may also include a brief statement (2 sentences maximum) about each work.

Check out our How to Apply to Calls for helpful tips on how to submit the most competitive application.

SlideRoom technical support is available Monday – Saturday by email, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PST)


Eligibility is open to professional, practicing artists. Artists living outside the United States are also eligible to apply. Entries not meeting eligibility guidelines will be withdrawn from consideration.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Street Artists Screenings

October 03
1:00 PM to 4:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Street Artists Screenings

October 03
1:00 PM to 4:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Street Artists Screenings

October 03
1:00 PM to 4:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Street Artists Screenings

October 03
1:00 PM to 4:30 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125