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Photographs of Viaduct Demolition

Last week the southern portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle was demolished to make way for the construction of a highway tunnel beneath the city. When that is completed around 2015, then the rest of the viaduct through downtown will also be demolished.

Like a lot of other photographers, I was drawn to this historic spectacle. The demolition started in earnest on Oct. 22, 2011 with the public invited to walk the upper deck of the viaduct and watch from a distance.

The construction plan was to close Highway 99 for nine days so they could demolish just enough to connect a new bypass highway and get the traffic moving again by Monday Oct. 31. Instead they finished that part two days early. Simultaneously, they started demolition further south of there, past Atlantic St. to Massachusetts St. Most of my photographs were taken in this area because it was easily accessible.

This photo essay starts with five aerial views taken October 13 before demolition and one on October 26 during demolition. The other nine photos provide ground truth in the vicinity of S. Atlantic St. and Alaskan Way.

John Stamets teaches photography and runs the Architecture Photo Lab in the basement of Gould Hall. In his outside architectural photography practice, he specializes in historic building documentations to HABS/HAER standards for the U.S. Library of Congress and other archives. As a documentary artist, he prefers photographing buildings under construction in large format. Among the construction sites he’s photographed are for two buildings designed by Rem Koolhaas (Seattle Central Library and IIT Campus Center in Chicago); two designed by Frank Gehry (Experience Music Project in Seattle and Pritzker Music Pavillion in Chicago) and two designed by Santiago Calatrava (Milwaukee Art Museum and SundialBridge in Redding, CA).

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