Public Space Public Life “Playing on the Pier”
Public Space | Public Life Studio on Seattle’s Central Waterfront Autumn 2011
ARCH 504/LARCH 504 Professors Kathryn R. Merlino and Nancy Rottle
“Playing on the Pier” Saturday, October 8th
Seattle’s Central Waterfront is heralded as one of the most significant civic projects in the city’s history. With imminent removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and replacement of the aging Elliott Bay Seawall, Seattle has begun to envision a great “waterfront for all.” Removal of the viaduct will create abundant new and qualitatively different public space, while the seawall replacement will provide opportunities for a more ecologically functional edge. Our studio focus is to imagine and develop an active, vibrant and multi-dimensional public realm that serves a multicultural, intergenerational population; to propose design interventions that reclaim the waterfront as an ecological space, both aquatic and terrestrial; and to identify planning strategies and opportunities to connect the Central Waterfront with the rest of the city. These tri-partite goals align with the priorities developed by the guiding Central Waterfront Partnerships Committee, which emphasize Connections, Partnerships, Vibrancy and Diversity of Experiences and Identities.
This past Saturday, October 8th day was aimed at engaging the students in their site through and interactive design-build challenge. Merlino and Rottle charged the students to use their experiences traveling in Copenhagen (in September) and their studies of the site to bring people out to the pier in a way that would express the site, and engage them with the otherwise pedestrian-less landscape. How could this experience help inform their future designs?
The results, and weather, were better than expected on all accounts!
Hundreds of waterfront visitors came to Pier 62/63 to play with installations created by interdisciplinary landscape architecture, architecture and urban planning students from the UW’s College of Built Environments. The planned exhibits were supplemented by impromptu chalking, dance performances, bubbles, bridal photos and Seattle’s watery landscape, and included interactive exhibits developed by the 25 landscape, architecture and urban planning students:
SUB-MERGE A sea of green helium-filled balloon kelp provided habitat for message-carrying fish, children and adults, creating a compelling entrance along the beach edge of the pier ( and two impromptu bridal parties, below)
HOME SWEET WATERFRONT A whitewashed living room complete with curtains blowing in the wind invited people of all ages to scribe poetry and their thoughts about the waterfront as Seattle’s living room (below).