Completion Date: 2022 • Elliott Bay Seawall, Seattle, WA

Buster Simpson received one of the earliest Waterfront commissions. His project Migration Stage is a response to the Habitat Beach that has been built in conjunction with the rebuilding of the Alaskan Way Seawall. Key interests of Simpson's are: the marine and shoreline habitats and the environmental forces that affect them; and the waterfront as a site of exchange - the working waterfront and port coupled with an evolving environmental/urban shoreline edge.

For Migration Stage, Simpson has strategically situated two sets of immediately useful as well as forward thinking sculptural placements along the Waterfront promenade. Anthropomorphic Triapods and SeaBarrier are sculptural and practical constructs that both furnish a public amenity zone and create a staging area of accessible materials that will be available to migrate inland as needed to mitigate future rising sea encroachment.

Anthropomorphic Triapods, act immediately as seating and interactive play objects, and stand ready to be engaged as shoreline habitat anchors and wave attenuators. The form of the one-ton cast concrete sculptures is based on an interlocking tetrapod system, used extensively along ocean edges to provide shoreline armor. Holes in Triapod "armpits" are intended for moorage lines that secure habitat biomass, the design of which was borrowed from the Salish people who hand carved the holes in their stone anchors. This promenade location, at what is now the Seattle Waterfront, was once a principle boat landing site for the Duwamish Tribe.

SeaBarrier is made up of multiples of six-foot long precast concrete wall segments, with a faux sand bag motif, that utilize a flexible interlocking modular system typical of a Jersey barrier. They are arranged in three thirty-foot long sections to provide seating with a view of the constructed beach. The design suggests a working waterfront with stacked bags of cargo, or a defensive sand bag wall ready to hold back storm surge. All port cities are on the edge of rising tides, Simpson has inscribed the names of some of them along the bottom of SeaBarrier in a gesture of commonality.

The sculptural placements of Migration Stage are offered for future deployments when shoreline mitigation is needed. Able to be moved inland over time, they are adaptable, as we also need to be, as part of a changing environment. This is a global dance of resilience, agility and equity. Migration Stage is set for now and for the long view.

Site Design: Todd Metten