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Weekly Art Hit: ‘Waterworks’ by Douglas Hollis

Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor was recently named one of the top 12 ArtPlaces in the United States. The neighborhood boasts a number of arts destinations, including the public artwork Waterworks by Douglas Hollis. Waterworks is at Cal Anderson Park just north of Pine Street and east of Broadway. If you’ve been to the park, you’ve walked by it, sat in the benches next to it, or relaxed listening to it.

Beginning in 1997, artist Hollis worked with the Berger Partnership, KCM and the community group Groundswell Off Broadway to develop a master plan for the covering and replacement of the Lincoln Reservoir in Capitol Hill.  Part of the Seattle Public Utilities’ program to cover all open reservoirs in Seattle, this project created Cal Anderson Park in 2005. The park is visually structured with walkways, plantings and an axial formality.

Waterworks is part of a focal water feature that suggests the existence of the subsurface reservoir. A large sculptural cone provides the source of the water, which flows out of the top over granite cobbles, through a runnel into a pool with a textured floor surface, and finally rests in a reflecting pool at the existing gate house. Using this series of water source, flow channel, texture pool and reflecting pool, the water feature demonstrates properties of water: pressure, flow, volume and reflectivity.

The 35-feet-in-diameter and 16-feet-high cone is asymmetrical, creating different aural experiences on the north and south sides as water flows down varying slopes.  On the south side, a “fissure-like” opening creates a transition point for a trough that is supplied with additional water. In the trough are interactive flow diverters that allow visitors to influence the flow of the water into the texture pool.

Hollis states, “Underlying much of this design is the sensual delight and amplified awareness of water (which the Greeks referred to as ‘sensitive chaos’). In this new park we not only see the water, but we can hear it in different ways, we can touch it, we can have a more intimate relationship with it, observing its ever-changing character as it fall and flows, and reflects…I believe this is a work of joy, contemplation and learning of this most precious resource.”

The artwork was funded with Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art funds.

Image: Douglas Hollis, Waterworks; 2005; water source: granite cobbles (over concrete structure), flow diverters:  cast bronze (to be installed in October). Located at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

-Tamara Gill, Community Development & Outreach