Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle, Washington, USA, 2004/2010
Undercurrents is an artwork at the outfall site of King County's Denny Way/Lake Union CSO Project, which reduces untreated combined sewer overflows into Elliott Bay and Lake Union through a series of pipes running under the city. The work consists of an artist-designed plaza, landscape, and integrated sculpture and graphic imagery that together reveal invisible site functions.
A large mechanical vault at the entry to the site is wrapped on three sides with a planted berm, conceptually conveying stormwater utility as green infrastructure. The fourth side is clad with stainless steel wall panels etched with a metaphoric pictogram depicting stormwater collection, transport, and treatment. A hidden door in the wall allows access into the vault. Five reflective vent pipes extend out of the vault, mirroring the environment.
A swale running down the center of the plaza, directly over two large outfall pipes is etched with words and lines describing natural flows of water. The swale channels stormwater, mimicking actions of the underground pipes during storm events. Wave-activated sound pipes are built into the riprap around the plaza. Letters spelling “h’loo-loo-loo-loo-loo," a sound from a Native American myth about water, are embedded in the concrete paving in front of the soundpipes. Gates and fences for the pump building beside the plaza are fabricated from pipe bent and welded to resemble shoreline reeds and eddies.
Undercurrents was commissioned by 4Culture. The metalwork was built by Fabrication Specialties with etching by Western Metal Arts.