The Aurora
Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

What do you get when 120 stainless steel triangles are made into a 13 foot wide ring? The origami inspired fountain Aurora. And probably the number 23. And, what the hell, one fountain to rule them all.

While Asawa designed other origami inspired fountains around the city, notably on the Buchanan Mall which is actually a street, Aurora has the best view. The fountain is located in the plaza to 188 Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge across from Pier 14 on the San Francisco waterfront. AKA, nowhere you want to be after a Giants game or when the President is in town. Nighttime might be the best time to view Aurora, since it offers a #nofilter ready frame for pics of a lit Bay Bridge. It's kind of like looking through the mouth of a Transformer right before it eats the bridge. Search #ruthasawa on Instagram and you'll see some prime examples, along with her other work around the city.

The fountain's initial installation was delayed due to the unforeseeable double-whammy of Asawa being diagnosed with lupus and the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway. The project continued after Asawa recovered adequately and the freeway was sufficiently dismantled. Water to the giant piece of origami was first turned on by then-Mayor and current US Senator Dianne Feinstein during the plaza's opening ceremony.

Aurora might also have the best wi-fi of any fountain in the city, perhaps the world. Google recently bought 188 Embarcadero for $65 million, and in a rumor I'm starting right now they scandalously paid for it via PayPal instead of Google Wallet (which for some reason still exists). So the next time you're looking at Aurora, remember to just go inside 188 Embarcadero and tell the first Googler you see to Google Ruth Asawa on Google for you instead of bothering to take out your phone. And, since you're there anyway, ask if they'd like to talk about neighborhood gentrification.

srussell's picture


The elegant sculpture was clearly inspired by origami, from Ruth Asawa's childhood life in Japan. 

You can find directions for making a traditional modular origami paper star here, but yours will surely turn out smaller.  Hers looks like something you would find in the circus for tigers to jump through, although in this case, the hoop has a diameter of about ten feet, so maybe it would be more useful to a creationist circus featuring jumping dinosaurs instead of tigers.

Alternatively, it could be a sprocket from an enormous gearbox.

Comments (1)

Lorna Wright

I saw some of Ruth Asawa's fountains when i visited San Francisco. They're all so different, it's hard to believe they are by the same artist!