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Project in Detail

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Art Museum

Seattle, United States of America
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, New York, United States of America
World Architecture Festival 2008 - Category Winner

Opening Day 
Benjamin Benschneider 

Envisioned as a new urban model for sculpture parks, this project is located on Seattle’s last undeveloped waterfront property – an industrial brownfield site sliced by train tracks and an arterial road. The design connects three separate sites with an uninterrupted Z – shaped “green” platform, descending 40 feet from the city to the water, capitalizing on views of the skyline and Elliott Bay, and rising over existing infrastructure to reconnect the urban core to the revitalized waterfront.

Formerly owned by Union Oil of California (Unocal), the area was used as an oil transfer facility. Before construction of the park, over 120,000 tons of contaminated soil was removed. The remaining petroleum contaminated soil is capped by a new landform with over 200,000 cubic yards of clean fill, much of it excavated from the Seattle Art Museum’s downtown expansion project.

Winner of an international design competition, the design for the Olympic Sculpture Park capitalizes on the forty-foot grade change from the top of the site to the water’s edge. Planned as a continuous landscape that wanders from the city to the shoreline, this Z-shaped hybrid landform provides a new pedestrian infrastructure. Built with a system of mechanically stabilized earth, the enhanced landform re-establishes the original topography of the site, as it crosses the highway and train tracks and descends to meet the city. Layered over the existing site and infrastructure, the scheme creates a dynamic link making the waterfront accessible. The main pedestrian route is initiated at an 18,000-square-foot exhibition pavilion and descends as each leg of the path opens to radically different views. The first stretch crosses a highway, offering views of the Olympic Mountains; the second crosses the train tracks, offering views of the city and port; and the last descends to the water, opening views of the newly created beach. This pedestrian landform now allows free movement between the city’s urban center and the restored beaches at the waterfront.

As the route descends from the pavilion to the water, it links three re-created archetypal landscapes of the northwest: a dense and temperate evergreen forest lined with ferns; a deciduous forest of Quaking Aspens with seasonally changing characteristics; and a shoreline garden including a series of new tidal terraces for salmon habitat and saltwater vegetation. Throughout the park, landforms and plantings collaborate to direct, collect, and cleanse storm water as it moves through the site before being discharged into Elliott Bay.

As a “landscape for art”, the Olympic Sculpture Park defines a new experience for modern and contemporary art outside the museum walls. The topographically varied park provides diverse settings for sculpture of multiple scales. Deliberately open-ended, the design invites new interpretations of art and environmental engagement, reconnecting the fractured relationships of art, landscape, and urban life.

Lead Architect »

Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
New York
United States of America

Professional Credits »

Aquatic Engineering Consultant
Anchor Environmental
United States of America

Mr Michael Manfredi
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
United States of America

Ms Marion Weiss
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
United States of America

Architect - Project Manager
Mr Christopher Ballentine
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
United States of America

Architectural Site Representation
Owen Richards Architects
United States of America

Catering & Food Service Consultant
Bon Appetit
United States of America

Client / Developer
Mr Chris Rogers
Seattle Art Museum
United States of America
0402 946 179

Curtain Wall Consultant
R.A. Heintges Architects, Consultants
United States of America

Environmental Engineer
Mr Lori Herman
Aspect Consulting
United States of America

Geotechnical Engineering Consultant
Hart Crowser
United States of America

Graphics Consultant
United States of America

Kitchen Consultant
JLR Design
United States of America

Lighting Consultant
Brandston Partnership Inc.
United States of America

Main Contractor
Mr Bill Badger
Sellen Construction
United States of America

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Consultant
ABACUS Engineered Systems
United States of America

Project Architect
Mr Todd Hoehn
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
United States of America

Project Architect
Ms Yehre Suh
Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
United States of America

Project Manager
Mr John Schwartz
Barrientos LLC
United States of America

Retail Consultant
Doyle + Associates
United States of America

Security and AV/IT Consultant
United States of America

Structural and Civil Engineering Consultant
Mr Jay Taylor
Magnusson Klemencic Associates
United States of America

Supplier / Product Credits »

Aluminium curtain wall
United States of America

Corrugated steel wall panels
McKinstry Co
United States of America
Mr David Allen
+1 (206) 762-3311

Custom resin tebletops and counters
United States of America
+1 212 295 7763

Mechanically-stabilized earth
United States of America

Mirror fritted glass
Eckelt Glas

Precast concrete panels
Con-Force Structures
Mr Isaac Cohen
+ 1 (403) 248-3171