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  • AIA San Francisco Offices (map)
  • 130 Sutter Street, 6th Floor
  • San Francisco, CA, 94104
  • United States
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Ben Davis - From Light to Enlightenment: Transforming San Francisco into the City of Awe

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 5:30 pm- 8:00 pm
AIA San Francisco Offices, 130 Sutter St. 6th Floor, San Francisco CA

What does it take to go from audacious vision to sparkling reality? How do you bring hundreds of people together and go from impossible to possible? How do you touch people's hearts and activate the culture of generosity? In this talk Ben Davis will describe his journey in bringing The Bay Lights to life, sharing key lessons learned. He'll also outline other civic successes in San Francisco, and share new projects in the Illuminate pipeline that, taken as a whole, seek to transform San Francisco into the City of Awe. 

Ben Davis, CEO, Illuminate
In 2010 Ben Davis was visited by the vision of the Bay Bridge as a canvas of light. Fueled by a desire to see San Francisco's "other bridge" shine in the region's consciousness, Ben committed to a journey of ten-thousand conversations. Less than two and a half years later, a vast and generous community had formed, collectively willing The Bay Lights into existence. In 2014, Ben went from career to calling, walking away from Words Pictures Ideas, the award-winning creative agency he founded in 1995, and taking on full-time leadership of the arts non-profit he founded, Illuminate. Ben led the successful effort to make The Bay Lights artwork permanent in 2015. He also was the catalyst for the illumination of The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park for the Summer of Love, and of light installations in the Castro neighborhood that honored Harvey Milk's legacy. 

Illuminate's mission is to rally large groups of people together to create impossible works of public art that, through awe, free humanity's better nature. Under Ben's leadership, the non-profit has raised more than $20 million in philanthropic and pro bono support for public art in San Francisco. Ben cut his professional teeth working on The Boston Harbor Cleanup Project, where he started as an intern and left eight years later as the Manager of Public information on the $4b environmental project. He has deep appreciation for civic infrastructure, and a profound appreciation for the hard work and crucial collaboration required to create artwork at a monumental scale. 

5:30 - 6:30: Networking & Hosted Hors D’oeuvres and Cocktails
6:30 - 7:30: Presentations
7:30 - 8:00: Q&A with audience


$25 IES, ASID, IIDA, or AIA members
$30 Non IES, ASID, IIDA, or AIA members
$10 Emerging Professionals & Students

More Info: Rochelle Kimball rd.kimball@yahoo.com 415 994-8384

Learning Objectives

1. Attendees will learn to describe a visionary’s path and process.

2. Attendees will analyze the body of Illuminate's work to see how to bring these projects to fruition, including the San Francisco Bay Bridge “Bay Lights” project, step by step from a temporary installation to a permanent feature of San Francisco’s waterfront.

3. Attendees will be able to identify key themes for civic lighting projects as they relate to human nature and light.

4. Attendees will learn to compare Illuminate's unique civic focus with other arts organizations and works of public art to better understand the unique process for getting large public lighting projects from audacious vision to sparkling reality.