• Surrounded by downtown Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park is intersected by an arterial highway and railroad tracks. Incorporating this infrastructure into the design, Weiss/Manfredi created an uninterrupted z-shaped landform that wanders from the city to the water's edge.

    Credit: Paul Warchol, New York

    Surrounded by downtown Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park is intersected by an arterial highway and railroad tracks. Incorporating this infrastructure into the design, Weiss/Manfredi created an uninterrupted z-shaped landform that wanders from the city to the water's edge.
 

From the pavilion, through an adjoining plaza and amphitheater, a 2,200-foot crushed-stone z-shaped path leads visitors through a series of gradually descending distinct “galleries” to the newly restored shore, and offers a multitude of radically different views at each turn, from the sea and mountains to the city and port. Lining the path at 30-foot intervals are custom-designed bollards that create a rhythm to the walkway. As Manfredi explains, the bollards “give the park some scale at dusk, and provide a legibility without raising the light levels too high, so there's a rather subtle trajectory of light that, particularly in the often wet, damp climate of Seattle, plays with that wetness and gives off a glow.”

Because there were no suitable products on the market, Weiss/Manfredi and BPI collaborated with d'ac Lighting to create the ideal fixture. As Marion Weiss, design partner at Weiss/Manfredi, explains, “The point was to try and make something that looked as undesigned as possible.” The resulting bollard is a 32-inch-tall spun-aluminum fixture topped with a glass globe that houses an 18W compact fluorescent lamp. “We were very interested in a light fixture that would, among other things, bring the light level down,” Weiss says. “Because the z-shaped path follows the park's highest point, we wanted to give the sense of the infinite scale of the sky and the horizon, as opposed to light fixtures being right at eye level or higher.” To achieve this, a sense of measure was key and a significant amount of time was spent on calculating the bollard's height and spacing, as well as on understanding the impact of so many fixtures. The goal was “to create a very soft reference,” Chou notes.

Along the path, sculptures reside in their designated spaces, each particularly suited to the artwork they contain. Because the museum required flexibility to light changing exhibits in the future, each section of the park is controllable by a wall box to meet the requirements of each distinct space. To keep the light levels low enough for the art to have a presence, in-grade adjustable fixtures illuminate the majority of the sculptures. Adding some variety, cast-in-place 13W compact fluorescent 3000K steplights are recessed into retaining walls throughout the park.

“This incredibly difficult collection of sites was brought together in one very clear and powerful form,” Weiss says. With a minimal, unobtrusive lighting scheme, the juxtaposition of city and nature comes together seamlessly, allowing for different settings to coexist. With its fusion of art, landscape, architecture, and infrastructure, this magnificent addition to Seattle's landscape may very well give the Space Needle a run for its money.

MANUFACTURERS & APPLICATION

B-Light Bega Surface-mounted signage light at garage entry Recessed steplights at landscape exterior steps; exterior surface-mounted floodlight on underside of Elliott Avenue bridge
BK Lighting Surface-mounted adjustable accent lights at exterior pavilion entry; front entry signage
d'ac Lighting Custom bollards lining z-shaped path
Elliptipar Asymmetric uplights at pavilion perimeter mounted at mullions, exterior pavilion entry, and pavilion lower-level west wall; signage light at Elliott Avenue bridge
Fabulux Ceiling surface-mounted jelly jar on underside of Elliott Avenue bridge
Holophane Ceiling-mounted parking light
Kenall Ceiling-mounted area light on underside of Elliott Avenue bridge
Lightolier Accentlights, downlights, and wallwashers at pavilion interior and throughout
Litelab Track and track heads in pavilion, multipurpose spaces, and exhibit galleries
Prudential Linear strips in parking garage