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Two public art projects recognized as part of the 2016 Design Excellence Awards

The Seattle Design Commission recognized two projects that were enriched with integrated public art in their 2016 Design Excellence Awards, Fire Station 20 and Mapes Creek Restoration. You can view all the recipients here.

The Seattle Design Commission presents the Design Excellence Awards every two years, selecting the winning projects from the many public buildings, parks, open spaces and vision plans completed in Seattle. They choose projects that promote the mission and exemplify the values of the Design Commission: inspired design, contextual integration, innovative sustainability, social inclusion, exemplary partnerships, effective investment and impeccable execution.

The recognized artworks are Rob Ley’s Wind and Water at Fire Station 20 and the two Mapes Creek Restoration artworks: Yegizaw Michael’s Motion and John Grade’s Gyre.

Wind & Water by Rob Ley
Fire Station 20, 2014
Photographed by Lara Swimmer

Wind and Water at Fire Station 20 comprises more than 100 one-inch stainless steel tubes and stands over 14 feet tall, suggesting the flow of water or the movement of the wind. The sculpture engages passing pedestrians and frames the entrance to the building. The fire station also includes state-of-the-art sustainability upgrades and increased space for more fire engines.

The Office of Arts & Culture commissioned Wind and Water with Department of Finance and Administrative Services Fire Facilities and Emergency Management Levy 1% for Art funds. Photos courtesy City of Seattle.

Yegizaw Michael, Motion

Integrated into the Mapes Creek Restoration is Motion by Yegizaw Michael, which consists of over 450 disks of colored concrete and stainless steel that are inlaid throughout the 52nd Ave. S. walkway. The disks appear to flow between a set of concrete pipes that are inset in the north and south ends of sidewalk, calling attention to Seattle Public Utilities’ combined sewer line along the Mapes Creek Walkway that flows to the King County pump station.

John Grade, Gyre

John Grades’ work Gyre, also at Mapes Creek Restoration, is a stainless steel and wood sculpture suspended over the mouth of Mapes Creek in Beer Shiva Park in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. A master in working with wood, Grade meticulously crafted Gyre with tongue-and-groove slats surrounding a stainless steel frame. The artwork’s gently twisting form conjures a sail, rudder or elongated fin, and references the spiraling eddies of the water below and in adjacent Lake Washington. Sculpted with old-growth cedar salvaged from the Cedar River Watershed, the source of most of Seattle’s drinking water and vital to the area’s salmon habitat, Gyre reinforces the connection between the source of the region’s water and its destination.

The Lower Mapes Creek project is project of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), and both Gyre and Motion are funded by SPU’s 1% for Art funds.

Side note: the two-other project recognized by the Design Commission, Sound Transit’s Light Rail Station at the University of Washington and the Leaves of Remembrance project both included artworks.