2014-15 • Elliott Bay Seawall, Seattle, WA

Public Art Proposal


This plan reinforces the beach habitat ecology by introducing a number of root wad/anchor systems integral to the beach and on top of the jetty arms. The root wads provide protected habitat, introduce biomass, and bring diversity to the water’s edge. A robust assemblage of anchored root wads along the top of the jetty arms suggests a psychological human barrier to foster a habitat sanctuary and address security concerns along the north jetty arm. 


In order to protect the habitat investment, a containment barrier should be located in the beach offshore area for rapid deployment. The rolled up barrier has visual appeal, kinetically interacting with wave action. When deployed the containment boom form responds to the tidal movements including an inboard and outboard floating catenary.


Consideration should be given to saving in place the existing remnant of the historic seawall railing (including reinstalling the historic plaque) and integrating it into a threshold “rubble edge” which includes balustrades of repurposed historic railing removed elsewhere on the project.


Two approaches to SeaRisers that serve as seating are being considered. One approach is a formal system with a high level of design, consistent in its manufacture and sharing similarities with the Anthropomorphic Dolos. The other approach is the Concrete ‘Sandbag’ SeaRiser approach, which is a product made by casting concrete in a bag and allowing it to set in place. This approach is more natural with a feeling of community engagement and will stand apart from the rest of the waterfront’s high level of design refinement. These two approaches need to be mocked up to get an understanding of their suitability, contextually and functionally. As suggested by the Seattle Design Commission, the SeaRiser concept could repeat at various locations along the entire waterfront project thus providing another lineal design element.


Anthropomorphic Dolos serve as both metaphors of human intervention and as an engineered armor and anchor resource. In the proposed ‘temporary’ location, the dolos provide a pedestrian-navigable play area as they await deployment as anchors on the beach at some indeterminate future time. 


The saving of selected columns of the Alaskan Way Viaduct presents a totemic welcoming figure of scale while providing a historic anomaly. Repurposing of the iconic columns for some future function will be studied.

© 2014-15 Buster Simpson

Site Design by Todd Metten

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VIEW the Proposal PDF