02.20.2017

Upstairs at Market St. pool hall, a light show for the future

Update

The Hall on Market Street, its ground-floor commercial establishments boarded up for years, became a bustling venue when it was converted to a food mall a few years ago. Its owner, Craig Young of Tidewater Capital, got city permission a few weeks ago to tear down the dilapidated building to make room for a 120-foot tall structure with 186 rental units. Meanwhile, its second floor, a long-closed billiards hall, is being used as a kind of hidden showroom in the service of art and the city’s future.

Ben Davis, who brought Leo Villareal’s “Bay Lights” to the Bay Bridge, and then raised enough money to make them permanent, has envisioned “Lightrail.” This project, by artists George Zisiadis and Stefano Corazza, sends ribbons of colored light from lamp to lamp along the edges of Market Street, from the Ferry Building to Van Ness Avenue and back, reflecting the movement of Muni Metro and BART cars below. The project has already gotten its needed approvals from city agencies. Its fundraising goal is $10 million.

To that end, Young has allowed Davis and his Illuminate team members to create an “immersive projection space” in the old billiard parlor. It’s a rectangle 70 feet by 25 feet, with a screen on each of its four walls. After showing a documentary about the project, Davis beckoned me to the center of the room … and I found myself standing in the middle of Market Street. Pedestrians walked on the sidewalks, lights flickered through cables overhead. This particular demonstration — to end in this space when the building is razed later this year — is quite a show, which is just what the “Lightrail” team is aiming for when the projections become reality.

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