South Station Railroad Terminal, Boston, MA 1990-95 steel, steel cable, and cast bronze
17′ x 91′ x 91′
The permanent sculpture for South Station in Boston is a symbolic introduction to the act of travel. In the grand entry hall, suspended from the coffered ceiling above the travelers, the sculpture metaphorically maps out the travelers’ journeys through the station to their diverse personal destinations beyond.
Commissioned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the Federal Railroad Commission
Concentrated in the central coffer above the entrance, 25 assorted steel spools hang from brackets mounted on the ceiling. A steel cable is wound onto each spool. These cables wind off from the spools in uniform parallel lines until they pass through the “reed,” a regularly perforated T-shaped steel plate. The reed, functioning much like the reed on a loom, maintains a parallel relationship between the cables. After passing through the reed, the cables strike out in diverse directions, crossing each other and fanning out towards destinations widely dispersed across the ceiling. Each cable eventually passes through an eyehook and drops vertically to a final destination. Each destination is a unique bronze casting of a lathed turning — a cross between a plumb bob (a device which locates a precise geographic position) and a vessel (which enlarges and contains the position, making it a place). The weight of each destination pulls the cable taut from its originating spool.
SCULPTURE MAGAZINE, JANUARY 1996
Jeffrey Schiff’s recently installed commission at the South Station Railroad Terminal in Boston dangles several feet above the hustle and bustle of the busy entrance hall. Titled Destinations, the piece consists of 25 fabricated steel spools and shapely cast bronze forms suspended from the station’s ceiling. Steel cables wind around each spool, extend 90 feet across the ceiling’s span and thread through eyehooks to drop down at varying lengths. Each hanging form is an open-ended vessel combined with the characteristics of a plumb-bob, a device that locates a precise topographic position. Schiff intended the paths of the cables, –– from their origins in locked spools to their varying end-points –– to symbolize the journey of a typical passenger, in much the same way that sculptural imagery at a cathedral entrance prepares visitors for the spiritual realm within. The randomly criss-crossing cables suggest the mingling of travelers’ lives as they interact and head toward their journey’s end. Schiff was originally commissioned in the early ‘80s to create a floor design at the station, but as construction plans changed he was asked to redo the design. Destinations, his second proposal, was commissioned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and by the Federal Railroad Administration, and was completed in 1995.