Weiss/Manfredi creates a new landscape for art that reconnects Seattle to the waterfront
Emblematic of many post industrial cities, Seattle is disconnected from its waterfront by transportation infrastructure. The site of the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, an 8.5-acre former industrial site sliced into three separate parcels by train tracks and a four lane arterial road, overlooks Elliott Bay in Puget Sound. The design, a continuous constructed landscape for art, rises over the existing infrastructure to reconnect the urban core to the revitalized waterfront.
This landscaped surface, an uninterrupted Z–shaped “green” platform, descends 40 feet from the city to the water, capitalizing on views of the skyline and Elliott Bay. An exhibition pavilion provides space for art, performances, and educational programming. From this pavilion, the pedestrian route descends to the water, linking three new archetypal landscapes of the northwest: a dense temperate evergreen forest, a deciduous forest, and a shoreline garden with aquatic terraces that form a regenerative underwater habitat for fish and plant life.
The Olympic Sculpture Park rethinks the conventions of the typical sculpture park, providing a dynamic and evolving setting for art. As a landscape for art, the Olympic Sculpture Park extends the experience of viewing modern and contemporary works beyond the museum walls. Illuminating the power of an invented landscape to create connections between art and ecology, city and waterfront, the deliberately open-ended design invites new interpretations of art, ecology, and urban engagement.