Our Cloud City in Palo Alto

April 6, 2022

The installation of this 7-foot-tall outdoor steel sculpture by Tomás Saraceno has been one of our most fulfilling and complicated projects to date, demanding all of our expertise to complete!

The sculpture was a highly collaborative project between LSSAA, the clients, and their architect, Stephen Verner. Our clients’ house’s sight lines were originally designed around the possibility of an outdoor sculpture in the backyard, to also be enjoyed from the kitchen and unique library. Verner approached LSSAA during the construction phase to source a sculpture that complemented both the clean lines of the home and the client’s interests.

A cornerstone of our advisory practice has always been introducing exciting mediums into our client’s collection. 3D sculpture is always a welcome and unexpected addition to any home and this project is one of our most memorable!

Contemporary Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno poses inside his artwork Algo R(h)i(y)thms at his exhibition ”On Air” at the Palais de Tokyo. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images.


Born in 1973 in Tucuman, Argentina, Tomás Saraceno has taken the art world by storm with his interdisciplinary approach to art making. After studying architecture at National University of Buenos Aires, Saraceno turned to Fine Arts, completing  postgraduate degrees from The Fine Arts Academy in Buenos Aires in 2000 and Staatliche Hochschule in Frankfurt in 2003. In 2009, he then attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Center Ames in Silicon Valley.

Saraceno’s work is informed by engineering, aeronautics, and natural sciences. His interactive installations propose new, sustainable ways of inhabiting the existing environment.

Tomas Saraceno, On the Roof: Cloud City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno


You might recognize Tomás Saraceno from his site-specific installation Cloud City for the Met Museum Rooftop back in 2012. It was an interactive adult playground, made of 16 monumental steel and plexi polyhedrons that formed a structure reflecting his vision of the future that imagines people living in cloud-like cities.

Tomás Saraceno: Stillness in Motion — Cloud Cities, 2016 (installation view, SFMOMA); photo: © Studio Tomás Saraceno


Beyond placing beautiful artworks, we are dedicated to educating our clients about contemporary artists and the importance of the conceptual ideas behind their practice. Our ethos came full circle with this project as the clients decided they wanted to pursue a commission with Saraceno after visiting his immersive Stillness in Motion – Cloud Cities exhibition at SFMOMA in 2017. Not only was the exhibition intellectually rich – the show was a vision of a future utopia in the sky – but it was also a fun and immersive experience for the client’s two young children.

We hoped for an artist that reflected the client’s interests and their backgrounds as software engineers. Before settling on Saraceno, we created an extensive proposal featuring similarly minded artists from Ernesto Neto and George Rickey to Jeppe Hein and Olafur Eliasson. Ultimately, our clients’ in-person experience at the SFMOMA exhibition solidified the client’s love for Saraceno’s work.

Tomas Saraceno 2019 Proposal for our client’s commissioned sculpture. Courtesy of the artist.


We couldn’t have brought to life Tomás Saraceno’s first residential outdoor sculpture without the incredible team at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and the logistical and technical expertise of the artist’s studio. After only one discussion with Saraceno about the client’s needs and their love of his Cloud City series, the artist sent a detailed proposal that met and exceeded all our expectations for the commission. It was meant to be!

Besides sourcing a world-class artist for his first residential project, this artist commission also involved sighting the work in the client’s space, navigating the most fraught logistical environment due to the pandemic, and finalizing the lighting and advising on continued conservation.

Install view of Tomas Saraceno. Architecture by Verner Architects, photography by Bruce Damonte.


Another key element to this commission was considering the clients’ pre-existing collection, which included the likes of Tony Cragg, Gabriel Orozco, Tara Dononvan, and Pae White. It was very important to us to make sure that this new addition would complement the collection and have a clear connection to the other artists. The work above is another piece by Tomas Saraceno that we acquired early on for these clients.

Crated image of Tomas Saraceno commission. Image courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

Install process image of Tomas Saraceno commission. Image courtesy of LSS Art Advisory.


After months of thoughtful design and fabrication, our Cloud City sculpture was complete, crated, and ready to leave Saraceno’s Berlin studio. Unfortunately, it was March of 2020, and the world shut down – and as such, our sculpture’s flight to California was cancelled indefinitely. Fast forward through a few weeks of accelerated investigation into the logistics behind ocean freighting and we had a plan B: we secured a passage for the sculpture on a transatlantic container ship that passed through the Panama Canal before arriving safely in Oakland. From there, the incredible team at ShipArt/Uovo brought in a crane to install the piece in its new home! 

Install view of Tomas Saraceno. Architecture by Verner Architects, interior design by Bjorn Designs, photography by Bruce Damonte.

Install view of Tomas Saraceno. Architecture by Verner Architects, interior design by Bjorn Designs, photography by Bruce Damonte.


Our geometric gem builds off of Saraceno’s famous “Cloud City” series. It is titled TOI-169 b/M+M and was inspired by the concept of foam. Thanks to the research of 19th century physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau, foam is understood as multi-chamber systems of gas pockets — a “tension sculpture” made of film membranes. Plateau stipulated that the edges of a foam bubble, or rather a foam polygon, are formed by exactly three film walls; that two of these three must always meet at an angle of 120 degrees. TOI-169 b/M+M is designed and based on these same scientific principles allowing the viewer to engage with the complexity, symmetry and beauty of our natural world at its most minute.

As we walked through the client’s finished backyard, the space finally felt complete. It struck us as perfectly reflective of the people who live there. This project put all of our art advising and logistical expertise to the test, and we couldn’t be more proud of the success of our stunning Cloud City!