Candy was commissioned by the Alaska Design Forum to create a public art project on the tallest building in Fairbanks. The Polaris Building was once an apartment complex, then a hotel, and now it’s been vacant for more than a decade. And this isn’t an anomaly. Abandoned buildings have become such a common sight that they often slip quietly into the backdrop of our cities like an accepted part of our landscape. How can we learn more about the stories behind our buildings and how can they better fulfill our needs and dreams today? Looking for Love Again is an interactive public art project that collects residents’ memories of and hopes for the vacant Polaris Building. The 11-story high-rise is covered with a giant four-story sign that says “Looking for Love Again” to turn the building into an emotional beacon pleading for love and inviting people to come in for a closer look. Two chalkboards at the street level invite people to share their memories of the building and hopes for its future. See more photos, stories, and ideas on the project website, where you can also contribute directly online.
This project is an experiment – what if we could easily share the stories behind our buildings? What happened here? Who grew up here? How has it played a part in their lives? And what if we had more of a say in what these buildings could become? What if we could easily collect demand in an area? By drawing attention to our neglected spaces and providing residents with a platform to share, perhaps we can better understand the impact that buildings have on our lives and how they can become meaningful again.
2011, Industrial fabric (68′ x 36′), chalkboards (10′ x 30′), high-rise. Fairbanks, Alaska, Commissioned by The Alaska Design Forum. Project coordination by David Hayden. Project assistance by Mike Hondel. Installation assistance by Bernie Baecker, Carol Hayden, Sean Hering, Kate Incarnato, Galen Lott, Dustin Miller, Jessica Nelson, Amy Nordrum, Ian Oleson, Sheri Oleson, Pat Rivera, Jack Schmid, Trent Schoenemann, Sue Sprinkle, Dave van den Berg, and Jared van deer Weele.
Within this space, themes already emerged. For memories:
Memories of the Tiki Bar on the top floor
Ghost story of room 303
Themes for hopes:
Desire for a grocery store
Desire for an Indian restaurant
Desire for modern apartments downtown
Photos of the process:
All photos by Candy Chang unless credited otherwise. You have permission to use above photos for publicity about this project. See more photos of the process on the project website and on the Alaska Design Forum’s Common Space site.