Artist of San Francisco’s iconic Defenestration building wants to see wrecking ball 

The building that hosts Defenestration is slated for development. Creator Brian Goggin says “watching a wrecking ball hit it ... would be fascinating.” - ANNA LATINO/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • The building that hosts Defenestration is slated for development. Creator Brian Goggin says “watching a wrecking ball hit it ... would be fascinating.”

If destruction is the fate of Defenestration, that’s all right with the quirky art project’s creator.

So long as it’s the wrecking ball.

Something less cataclysmic, and Brian Goggin just might be more inspired to find a way to keep part of the furniture that’s been hanging off an abandoned South of Market hotel since 1997 on display somewhere in San Francisco, the artist said.

“I’d like to do whatever’s the most interesting,” Goggin said while surveying the bed, sofa, couch, tables, chairs and other household items that have been bolted onto the side of the Hugo Hotel at Sixth and Howard streets for about 14 years longer than anyone — including the artist himself — expected.

Plans to tear down the long-empty building and replace it with 67 units of affordable housing are moving forward, and Mercy Housing’s $18.8 million project doesn’t include art. The housing provider has no plans for public art of any kind at the site — there’s simply no budget for it, according to Doug Shoemaker, the organization’s president.

If money were no issue, Goggin said he would like to make molds of the current building and incorporate the site’s tall, narrow windows — with exiting furniture — into Mercy’s modern metal-and-glass design.

But money is an issue. And Goggin has full ownership of Defenestration, Shoemaker said, which means he’s also fully responsible for figuring out a way to get it off the building before it’s demolished — if that’s what he wants to do.

“I’d have to see how expensive it would be,” Goggin said, adding that an acceptable alternative might be to find a public space, such as a park, where part of Defenestration could be moved and continue to serve as public art. That would require a significant donation “in the million-dollar range,” Goggin said, while taking the pieces down might require more than $100,000. Right now, no donor has stepped forward.

“But if not, watching a wrecking ball hit it — and figuring out a way to document it from a number of angles — would be fascinating,” Goggin said. “But if it’s not a wrecking ball, it wouldn’t be as interesting.”

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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