The Interval: Long Now's New Home


The Interval at Long Now is almost ready for you to visit. We’ve shown you design comps and construction images before, but at last we can share photos of the real thing. Almost the real thing. There’s still some more work to do, but the end is in sight.

We’d like to thank to everyone who made this project possible especially our donors. Your support at every level helped us build a place where Long Now’s fans, members, and the public can gather. But more than that The Interval is also Long Now’s headquarters, our offices are right upstairs. And we are so proud that this beautiful space is our new home!

Our funding goal is also in sight. There’s still time to become a charter donor. At any level you choose to give, charter donors names will be listed on our donor wall and you’ll get invites to some pre-opening parties, amongst other benefits.

Now we’d like to show you around with a brief photo tour of some of the features that we think make The Interval special. All photos are by Because We Can, the fantastic design-build team we’ve worked with on the Interval renovation. Their work and that of our builders, Oliver & Company, have been essential to making The Interval a reality.

The Interval view from the backroom

In 02006 we moved into Fort Mason Center, a campus of former military buildings on the north shore of San Francisco which now houses arts groups and non-profits. Our building dates to the 01930s, the youngest at the Fort by 20 years.

The room we are in was originally a forge and machine shop. When we began to convert our old museum and store space into The Interval, we discovered the shop’s original concrete floor and knew we could never cover it up again.


The floor’s industrial imperfections somehow match perfectly with the natural variances in the specially quarried stone that serves as our bar top.

The long stone bar of The Interval at Long Now

On the ceiling above the bar you’ll find The Interval’s “bottle keep” featuring custom-made bottles by Adams & Chittenden Scientific Glass.

The Interval bottle keep closeup

Each bottle represents a generous donor who helped fund The Interval. At our pre-opening party just for bottle club donors, they can choose whether to fill their bottle with limited edition gin or whiskey, or instead select a rare, aged pu-erh tea. Both exclusive spirits are made for us by St George Spirits, while the tea is sourced by Samovar Tea Lounge.

And if you’d like a bottle of your own, or give at any level there’s still time to give to The Interval. Everyone who gives in May will get charter donor benefits including invites to various pre-opening events in the next three weeks.


The bright, slowly changing object behind the bar is an original creation of Brian Eno. One of a very limited set of “ambient paintings”, this is the only one in America and the only one on permanent public display anywhere.


Similar to Eno’s 77 Million Paintings and his “Lighting the Sails” project at the Sydney Opera House, this generative artwork continuously evolves in different patterns, never repeating itself in millions of vivid chromatic combinations.


Below Brian explains the background of his interest in generative art. The footage also includes many examples of his work that are similar to what you will see at The Interval.

Brian created music especially for The Interval, which will be played on our Meyer Galileo 616 system. More details about The Interval’s incredible sound system will be featured on the blog soon.


As you may know, Brian Eno is a co-founder of Long Now and sits on our Board. Another distinctive feature of The Interval comes from his work enabling our 10,000 Year Clock to play a different bell sequence every day for ten millennia. Eno and Danny Hillis designed an algorithm that will ring over 3.5 million unique bell sequences from 10 bells.

The Interval: view through the chime generator

The Chime Generator is the mechanism that controls the bell sequence. An analog computer featuring a series of beautifully machined geneva wheels, it manages the Clock’s daily algorithmic song production. A decade ago we built a one tenth scale prototype of the Chime Generator. For The Interval we’ve converted that prototype into a table–a museum piece that you can also rest your drink on.

The Chime Generator Table seen from above


We’ve posted a lot recently about the Manual for Civilization, our project to select 3,500 books that could help sustain or rebuild civilization. The Interval will be the home of this collection with bookshelves stretching from floor to ceiling. In addition to selecting the books, we need to acquire them. That’s one of the continuing costs that tax-deductible donations to The Interval brickstarter will help us fund.


The Manual won’t just live at The Interval. Thanks to our partners at the Internet Archive the books will also be available in their online collection. The list of books is growing with the help of our donors, members and some special guests. You can follow our blog for the latest details.


As exciting as these pictures are, what’s missing are the people. Our first donor events start within the week. Please consider a donation if you’d like to join in the opening celebrations. Regular day and evening hours begin in June, and public events will start imminently.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at what The Interval has in store–you’ll find even more images on our Flickr. We look forward to sharing more details in the weeks ahead and we can’t wait to welcome you to our new home: The Interval at Long Now.

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What is the long now?

The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

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