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Alki Pump Station 38 Improvement Project

photo via Seattle Public Utilities

The ARTS office worked with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and artist Sarah Thompson Moore to create Tracing Alki | Alki Pump Station 38 in West Seattle. Located at 1411 Alki Ave SW, Tracing Alki is both a functional pump station and a public artwork.  

Inspired by a topographical map of West Seattle printed in 1894, Tracing Alki incorporates the natural history of the area before European settlement, calling to mind patterns in nature: the rippling of water, growth rings in a tree, shellfish, fingerprints, and more. Through the use of #LithoMosaic, light reflective materials, and sandblasted patterns, the artwork was created to interact with the natural environment, offering a range of experiences with each visit. In coordination with the Muckleshoot Tribe, the map identifies culturally significant locations where vital resources once existed in abundance, cared for and utilized by the original inhabitants of this land and these waters. A utility cabinet wrap shared the 1894 topographical map as well as the Lushootseed Salish names and translations for the cultural markers.

View the video overview of the art installation:

The design interacts with the natural environment by using iridescent and light refractive materials and required painstaking planning and installation – the artist fabricated the artwork out of over 20,000 hand-cut tiles laid out backwards to be installed onsite. The interplay between the colors and patterns of the artwork and the elements of nature will make each visit a unique experience. Drawing visitors to the site, the artwork creates awareness of how the City of Seattle cares for its water and provides an opportunity for the community to look into the hidden work taking place below their feet. 

photo via Seattle Public Utilities

The pump station, which is in the north end of Alki Beach Park, is essential for moving sewage and stormwater from the surrounding area to the treatment plant. Prior to the recent improvements, the pump station required considerable maintenance and experienced an increase in flows, causing the air compressors to run more frequently and for longer periods of time. SPU converted the old pump station from an airlift-type station to a more standard pump station. This conversion will reduce the risk of failure, improve system reliability and performance, and reduce maintenance costs.

Learn more about the project via our friends at Seattle Public Utilities. 
Learn more about artist Sarah Thompson Moore.