Leo Villareal (2012)

Embarcadero: Pier 15 at Mission Street (View Map)

Experience Buckyball by Leo Villareal, a towering 25-foot illuminated sculpture that enlivens the Exploratorium's public space in both daylight and moonlight. Inspired by futurist and inventor Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome, the spherical soccer ball-like form features two nested geodesic spheres comprised of 4,500 LED nodes arranged in a series of pentagons and hexagons. (Scientists discovered the form in a carbon molecule in 1985 and coined it the "Buckminsterfullerence" or "Buckyball," which is avidly being researched by scientists and material engineers).

Buckyball's light sequences are driven by chance, and can glow with more than 16 million distinct colors to create exuberant, random compositions of varied speed, color, opacity, and scale. Simple elements drive a full-scale sculptural installation that moves, interacts, and ultimately grows into a complex, dynamic form that questions common notions of space, time and sensorial pleasure

Best Viewing: The Plaza at Pier 15 in front of the Exploratorium offers free public access. (The monumental light art sculpture The Bay Lights, also by Leo Villareal, can be seen from this location.) Enhance the experience with a visit to the Exploratorium's playful learning laboratory of more than 600 interactive exhibits and experiences that ignite curiosity and transform the way people learn. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (every day in July and August). Every Thursday, the Exploratorium reopens from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for adults only (18+).

Photo: James Ewing

Presenting Sponsor

5M is a new, vibrant mixed-use destination in the heart of San Francisco located at the intersection of 5th and Mission streets. Developed by Brookfield Properties, named “Developer of the Year” by the San Francisco Business Times in 2021, the four-acre parcel was previously home to parking lots and underutilized buildings. Now, it has been transformed into a lively community for locals and visitors alike.