Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feds to Spend $500,000 for New Art at Customs and Border Protection Facility in San Diego

    The "busiest land port of entry in the Western Hemisphere" is getting an upgrade, and according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), about a half a million dollars worth of new artwork will be part of the package. The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, the border crossing facility for the San Diego-Tijuana region, has been undergoing a $735 million modernization project spanning more than a decade. Since Phase Three of the project is included in President Obama's fiscal 2015 budget, the GSA has begun soliciting contractors, and that includes artists who will be commissioned to provided approximately $500,000 in new artwork for the new buildings.
GSA will modernize and expand the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry to better meet the needs of its tenants: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The project entails the phased reconfiguration and expansion of the existing facility to improve pedestrian and vehicular processing, increase operational efficiency, provide greater officer and public safety, decrease operational and maintenance costs, and improve the traveler's experience of crossing the border. The full build-out consists of the demolition and construction of the new port, including primary and secondary inspection areas, administration building, pedestrian building, and other supporting structures... 
GSA allocates one-half of one percent of the estimated construction costs of new or modernized federal buildings for art commissions. The art budget for Phase 3 of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry project is estimated at $500,000. One or more artists will be awarded a fixed-price contract for a commission.
     The plan for the San Ysidro facility is in keeping with the GSA's Art in Architecture program, in which one-half of one percent of the construction costs for new federal buildings is budgeted for artwork. The GSA's website describes the program:
GSA reserves one-half of one percent of the estimated construction cost of each new federal building to commission project artists. A panel composed of art professionals, civic and community representatives, the project’s lead design architect, and GSA staff meets to discuss opportunities for artists to participate in the building project. This panel reviews a diverse pool of artist candidates and nominates finalists for GSA to evaluate. Artists who receive federal commissions work with the project architects and others as members of a design team to ensure that the artworks are meaningfully integrated into the overall project.
    The GSA provides Alexander Calder's sculpture Flamingo (1974) at the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building in Chicago as an example:

    Artists have until October 6 to register to be considered for the San Ysidro project. Phase Three of the project is expected to be completed in January 2018. About 50,000 northbound vehicles and 25,000 northbound pedestrians cross the border through the facility each day.

Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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