June 17, 2002
SAM unveils design for Olympic Sculpture Park
by Deborah Stone
Arts & Entertainment
In 1999, the Seattle Art Museum, in partnership with the Trust for Public Land, purchased downtown Seattle's largest and last undeveloped waterfront property for the purpose of creating a new green space for people to experience modern and contemporary art beyond the museum's walls.
Recently, the Trustees of SAM unveiled the final concept design for this 8.5 acre site, which will be known as the Olympic Sculpture Park. The property is located in Belltown bordering Broad Street to the south, Bay Street to the north and Western Avenue to the east, while overlooking Elliott Bay to the west.
The innovative design, developed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects, one of the country's leading firms, melds art, architecture, landscape design and urban components, connecting the city to its waterfront space.
This plan connects three disparate sites, currently separated by roadways and train tracks in a unique "Z" shaped design.
A range of open areas will provide spaces for the presentation of rotating works of sculpture incorporating works by regional and international artists.
Pieces from the Seattle Art Museum's collection, such as Alexander Calder's monumental sculpture, "Eagle" will be on display along with loaned works and special exhibitions.
The park, which will be free to the public, will serve as a cultural and scenic destination, with its spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, Elliott Bay and the city's downtown skyline.
It will also include a special area for exhibitions, performances and educational programming, a cafˇ, pedestrian access to the waterfront and underground parking.
Jon Shirley, a leading sponsor of the project, says, "The Olympic Sculpture Park will further elevate sculpture as an important visual art form and build on Seattle's long-standing international reputation as an innovator in the field of public art. This new sculpture park will be a lasting and important legacy for the museum and the city."
Shirley, with his wife Mary, named the park after its impressive vista of the Olympic Mountains.
Construction on the project is currently expected to begin in 2003, with a projected completion date of 2004. To date, SAM has acquired more than half of the overall $60 million capital campaign, which includes land acquisition costs.
The Olympic Sculpture Park will be the third venue for the Seattle Art Museum and represents its commitment to making art accessible to all.