Milpitas Station Glass Facade
Public Artists Add to Appeal of New Silicon Valley BART Stations
Deanna Bolio


In constructing the new Milpitas and Berryessa Transit Centers, it was important that stations be more than just functional, but also have visual appeal and reflect the character of their respective neighborhoods. Experienced artists were commissioned to bring these goals to life.

Public art serves to enhance civic spaces, providing humanity, history, and culture to the surrounding environment. The artists selected to create pieces for VTA’s BART Berryessa Extension have experience creating installations for various public spaces, both in the United States and abroad.

Exterior shot of Milpitas BART glasswork
Photo credit: Meltdown Glass

When in the proximity of Milpitas Station, it’s impossible to miss the multi-colored glass work above the station entrance. Created by artists BJ Katz and Chris Klein, “Ethos of Imagination” celebrates the ethnic, cultural and environmental diversity of Milpitas. The work draws upon the character of the city of Milpitas, the conceptual imagination behind its economy, and the rugged beauty of the nearby foothills. A complex layering of art glass techniques was used in combining textures and colors, with changes in ambient light levels creating an ever-changing work of art.

Inside the station, riders will see that structural pillars have been intricately designed and covered in thousands of handmade ceramic tiles. Named “Ecstatic Voyaging” by San Francisco based artist Amy Trachtenberg, this work uses an element of ancient Ikat weaving pattern.

“The word ‘Ikat’ translates to ‘to tie or to bind’ and serves as a metaphor for bringing together community via an ancient and revered textile pattern practiced on most continents,” Trachtenberg writes.

Take a closer peek and you may also notice that patches of integrated circuitry are embedded into the screening of the tiles, reflecting Silicon Valley’s technological history of chip manufacturing. These circuitry patterns anticipate the occasional tile damage in the long life of a transit station. Over time, replacement tiles will include this secondary pattern indicative of the birthplace of high tech.

A few miles south in Berryessa, artist Larry Kirkland took inspiration from the nearby San Jose Flea Market in developing his creation, a cast bronze wheel entitled “Life”. Kirkland visited the market several times over a period of months, gathering items to include in the piece, from kitchen utensils and tools to musical instruments and toys.

“These are all things that make up an individual life,” writes Kirkland. “The piece suggests each and every person’s life journey. The uphill slope is what life often is, never known what lies ahead.”

We know that time is short and commuters are often rushing to get from place to place, but we hope that riders can take a moment to take in the creative elements that make each of these new stations unique.

See more: Public Art at Silicon Valley BART Stations

Close shot of one of the structural pillars at Milpitas BART Station
Ecstatic Voyaging (Photo credit: Amy Trachtenberg 2020)
Image taken of brass wheel outside Berryessa Station
LIFE! (Photo credit: ©Craig Collins 2019)


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