June 19, 1998

Russian and Chinese Students to Build "Pearl of the Pacific," the Third Link in a Ring of Parks

They are typically separated by thousands of miles and vastly different cultures. But for one month this summer, approximately 20 architectural students from Russia, China and the United States will join forces to build "Pearl of the Pacific," a sculpture designed by James Hubbell to be donated to the Port's Public Art Program. Pacific Rim Park is the third link in a ring of parks celebrating San Diego's sister city relationship with Vladivostik, Russia and Yantai, China.

Port commissioners and local leaders will welcome the visiting students to San Diego at a special groundbreaking ceremony at Shoreline park on the western edge of Shelter Island, near the "Friendship Bell" and next to the Harbor Police substation. Work on the project will continue from June 17 through mid-July when the students are scheduled to return to their respective countries.

The team of students, working under the direction of renowned local artist James Hubbell, will be constructing the "Pearl of the Pacific," a dramatic display of a pearl fountain, Chinese fans made of formed and poured concrete, and columns topped with ironwork inspired by Russian calligraphy. The fountain is surrounded by a mosaic that shows the cardinal points of the compass as well as the directions of San Diego's sister cities and ports.

Hubbell, who has received numerous awards of excellence for his designs and projects, is well known for his distinctive and eclectic style that is richly textured blending organimorphic sculpture and architecture. He infuses the dynamics of light and color through his work combining stained glass, mosaics and sculptures.

The project is the third link of a "pearl necklace" linking the Port's sister cities with the Pacific Rim. Both "Soil and Earth park" (completed in Vladivostok in 1994) and the "San Diego Yantai Friendship Rose Garden" (completed in Yantai in 1989) involved the cooperative efforts of San Diego, Russia and China.

"The construction of this park will be a living example of cross-cultural cooperation and the sharing of resources and ideas," said Catherine Sass, public art coordinator for the Port. "As a city and a port, we are economically and culturally linked to our neighbors throughout the Pacific Rim —the park will be a lasting symbol of these friendships."

Funding for the project and the coordination of host families are being organized by the Pacific Rim Park Corporation, a local nonprofit organization. The corporation has been working for more than three years assembling broad partnerships from the private sector and the local education community to make the project a reality. Major supporters include Dr. Seuss Foundation, Lang Construction, and Burkett and Wong Engineers, according to Patty Howell, president of the corporation.

"We encourage the public to visit the site during June and early July to view the progress of the students and become a part of what will be a tremendous gift to the waterfront and the region, "Howell said.

The students will stay at the University of California at San Diego during the week and with host families during weekends. The host families will introduce them to San Diego's culture and attractions while they complete the park.

San Diego maintains Sister City relationship with 14 cities worldwide and nine in the Pacific Rim. Through Sister City affiliations, educational, cultural and economic exchanges between select foreign cities and the City of San Diego are developed to provide a bridge for enhanced international relationships.

"This is an important project for the community. Not only are we receiving a donation of artwork designed by a celebrated artist, but we are furthering the spirit of understanding and cooperation with our Pacific Rim neighbors," said Sass. Other similar artworks along shoreline park are the "Tunaman's Memorial" and the "Yokohama Friendship Bell."