Synthesis, new kinetic, outdoor sculpture at
2000 Delaware
December 8, 2015

Westlake Urban, in partnership with Palo Alto Partners, recently completed a new, multifamily rental property for moderate-income households in San Mateo, CA. “From the beginning, the (San Mateo) City Council envisioned a mixed-income housing development for the community,” according to Sandra Council, Neighborhood Improvement and Housing Manager, City of San Mateo. The project, located at 2000 S. Delaware, is also home to the city’s newest public art installation, Synthesis, created by husband-and-wife artists Jonathan Russell and Saori Ide. “We’d like the artwork to give a sense of belonging to the people who live and work in the area by providing a place or a moment to reflect on their own personal stories,” they said.

2000 S. Delaware represents one half of a 120-unit affordable housing complex located at 1990-2000 Delaware Street. The north building, known as Delaware Pacific, includes 60 units for low-income households and was developed by MidPen Housing Corporation. The buildings are constructed on the same podium and share a variety of amenities, including a fitness facility, bike storage, covered parking and a landscaped courtyard with a children’s play area. Between the buildings now stands Synthesis.


Synthesis is a 20-foot stainless steel, kinetic/wind sculpture located at a center stairway at the front of the building and on display to Delaware Street. The artists wanted to complement the project design at 1990-2000 S. Delaware by creating a work of art that was monumental in scale and one that can actively engage passersby on a daily basis. When the wind sets the sculpture in motion, various patterns and shapes reveal themselves as one observes the dynamic rotating forms.

The idea of individuals moving independently, yet together weaving a unified pattern, is for Jonathan and Saori a perfect description of a thriving community. “When you look at the piece, you see lots of individual, leaf-like pods, but when you step back, you see them working together as a group—as a whole,” said Saori. “We like the idea of everything moving together, like a community coming together from different places, different backgrounds and different ages, working together to become a unified whole.”

Jonathan and Saori have worked together on public art installations for 15 years. Jonathan, a professor at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, focuses on copper and steel as his essential media, and he is interested in the dialogue that takes place between sculpture and viewer. Saori, who was born in Japan, has also worked on many outdoor sculpture installations. Her unique use of space, in dialogue with placed objects, always brings the viewer to a heightened awareness of their surroundings. “We were both sculptors before we met,” said Jonathan. “We both have very different styles, but when we come together, we let go of our personal work and focus on the context and demands of the environment. Our kitchen table is our battlefield where we throw ideas back and forth. It’s a real collaboration.”

The artists took their inspiration for Synthesis from a quote by explorer Captain Frederick W. Beechy, who in 1825 described the view of the area now known as San Mateo as, “a wide country of open meadowland, with clusters of fine oak trees.” The artists felt that a large oak tree standing majestically in the middle of an open meadow was a perfect metaphor for the City of San Mateo standing strongly against the wind.


Westlake Urban has a long history of including public art at our properties, and we are proud to be part the team that made it possible to bring Synthesis to San Mateo. Public art contributes to community life and adds value to shared public spaces; Synthesis is an allegory for the new community at 1990 and 2000 S. Delaware. We hope that the sculpture, with its evolved forms coming together in a beautiful visual pattern, will draw attention to the project and act as a magnet that will bring people together.

Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to stay up to date with Westlake Urban, and please visit 2000 S. Delaware the next time you’re in San Mateo to see Synthesis in action.


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