4Culture Grants + Calls

Rain Gardens X Public Art

Inspire and engage the public in green stormwater infrastructure through an artist-led, innovative approach to rain garden design.

1 About the Project

1 About the Project

  • Budget: $40,000 (Budget includes design, materials, fabrication, installation, and Washington State Sales/Use Tax, as relevant, and does not include the cost of plants and site earthwork, which will be paid for separately.)
  • Eligibility: Open to professional artists or artist teams with a strong interest in, or knowledge of, planting design and Pacific Northwest vegetation who reside in Washington State.
  • Application: submission of an online application is required for this opportunity.
  • Deadline: Friday, March 1, 2019 by 4:00 pm PST


4Culture and King County’s Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) Stormwater Services Section (the Section) seek an artist or artist-led team to develop an innovative approach to rain garden design. The artist/team will participate in the design of two rain gardens, develop planting plans, design and implement permanent artwork for one of the gardens, and create a palette of planting options for future rain garden designs. The part-time artist engagement will occur from March–November 2019.

The Section stewards stormwater infrastructure and regulations with a focus on water quality and public health, collaborating with organizations to educate and communicate water quality codes and the important role of every resident to protect the health and integrity of King County’s lakes, wetlands and streams.

The artist will support this work. In order to address stormwater issues, the Section is developing a program to incentivize green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) on private properties in unincorporated King County. The Section is in the beginning phases of planning several rain garden pilot projects and conducting audience research focused on public perception of GSI methodology. An artist/team will enable a new perspective on rain garden design by re-envisioning gardens to inspire and encourage engagement.

This is a great opportunity for artists interested in environmental issues to expand their practice to include earthwork, planting design, and exploration of plants as a media for creating a dynamic sculpture; landscape architects with an affinity for sparking curiosity about our connection to water systems to design permanent artwork supporting rain garden function; and teams interested to combine skills in public art and landscape architecture.

The artist/team will work closely with 4Culture and the Section to understand the art and science of stormwater management and the GSI Incentive program goals. In learning about rain gardens, planting design, and Pacific Northwest native plants, the artist/team will gain knowledge to inform the artwork and design of rain gardens. By participating in site visits the artist will experience different rain garden design strategies to inform methods of creatively capturing and filtering stormwater runoff across a variety of landscapes in unincorporated King County.

The artist will be involved with projects in two locations: King County-owned land and on Vashon Island. The Section will propose options for the King County owned site location and the artist will select the final site. WLRD staff will provide support, stormwater engineers will offer technical advice in properly sizing and locating the rain garden, and plant experts will review and provide feedback as the artist develops a planting plan. The artist will create permanent art at this location.

The second site is the Vashon Market IGA parking lot, which is the first GSI incentive pilot project and consists of several connected and engineered rain gardens. For this site the artist will create a planting design highlighting plant groupings and formulate rain garden typologies, which will aid in creation of the palette of planting options. The rain garden typologies are for the artist to define, but could classify site histories throughout unincorporated King County by referencing historical land type – farmland, forest, strawberry fields, etc. They could include a spectrum of private property owners’ aesthetic preferences including; seasonal interest, flower color, or leaf texture. Typologies could introduce a spectrum of contextual plant use based on ethnobotanical history such as; plants collected for building, craft, tools or food.

Potential ideas for exploration include:

  • Indigenous Knowledge and Ethnobotany
  • Human connection to water and plants throughout regional history
  • Remediation methods and education
  • Ecological restoration principles
  • Earthwork

Deliverables include the following:

  1. Artist-led design of a functioning rain garden and installation of a permanent artwork.
  2. Development of an artful planting plan for the Vashon Market IGA rain garden.
  3. Creation of a planting palette consisting of plant groupings and typologies that will serve as a resource for future rain garden design as part of the GSI incentive program.
  4. An artist-led tour or event to present the findings of this project.

Client Background


What is stormwater? In contrast to vegetated areas like forests, fields, and wetlands—where rain water seeps into the ground for use and natural filtration—rain in the urban landscape falls on non-absorbing surfaces like roofs and roads. Stormwater refers to rain that falls on paved and other hard, impervious surfaces and runs off, collecting pollutants as it travels to larger bodies of water. Stormwater runoff comes from small sources in all parts of the watershed; most of the four million people who live in the Puget Sound region contribute to stormwater pollution every day.

What is a rain garden?
What is Green Stormwater Infrastructure?

King County Water and Land Resources Division
The mission of the Water and Land Resources Division is to protect King County’s water and lands so that residents can enjoy them safely today and for generations to come.

Stormwater Services Section
The Section stewards stormwater infrastructure and regulations with a focus on water quality and public health. The Section designs, builds, and maintains facilities to convey stormwater runoff, remove pollutants and control flow rates. The Section also collaborates with a regional network of cities, counties and nonprofits on education and outreach programs to communicate water quality issues and the important role every resident has to protect the health and integrity of King County’s lakes, wetlands, and streams.

4Culture Public Art
4Culture provides funding and support for the cultural work that makes King County, WA vibrant. Our four program areas – Arts, Heritage, Preservation, and Public Art – put public resources to use all over King County. We are actively working to become a more equitable agency to ensure access to cultural experiences for all, from museum collections to theater productions to artists showing work in our gallery.

Public Art 4Culture commissions artwork for shared public space throughout King County, stewards the King County Public Art Collection, and offers expertise to public and private developers through consulting. We work to ensure that the work and thinking of artists is reflected in our built environment, bringing art into everyday life.

2 Timeline

2 Timeline

Timeline for Selection

Application deadline: Friday, March 1, 2019, 4:00 pm PST
Selection panel meeting: Thursday, March 7, 2019
Finalist notification: Friday, March 8, 2019
Finalist orientation interviews: Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14, 2019*

Project Timeline

Artist selection and contracting: March 2019
Artist orientation and research: March–April 2019
Conceptual development: May–June 2019
Design development: July–August 2019
Implementation: September–November 2019**

3 Are You Eligible?

3 Are You Eligible?


Open to professional artists or artist-led teams with a strong interest in or knowledge of planting design and Pacific Northwest vegetation who reside in Washington State.

Selection Criteria

Finalists will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Quality of concept, design and craftsmanship of past works.
  • Demonstrated interest in or knowledge of planting design and Pacific Northwest vegetation.
  • Past work incorporates concepts examining natural resources, ecology, or ecosystem thinking.
  • Ability to design artwork appropriate in concept, material, and scale for outdoor and natural environments, mindfulness of sustainable practices.
  • Perceived ability and interest to convey scientific information in innovative artistic forms to engage the public.
  • Availability to work in King County, WA, on a part-time basis for 8 months.

Selection Process

A five-person selection panel will review the applications, select finalists for interview, and recommend one finalist for this opportunity. The panel consists of experts in landscape architecture, public art, public engagement, ecology, and stormwater management.

4 How to Apply

4 How to Apply

You must submit the following materials via online application. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.


Contact information for yourself or all members of your team if applying as a team.

Statement of Interest

Write a statement (500 words or less) explaining why you are interested in working on this project and how you would approach this commission opportunity considering your past work. If there are multiple collaborators as part of your team, please explain how you work together. Consider the selection criteria as it relates to this opportunity. Applicants are not asked to submit a proposal as part of the application.


Two-page (maximum) current professional résumé plus one additional page with references (see instructions below). Keep the formatting as simple as possible. PDF is preferred; text (.txt) files will also be accepted. Teams should upload one document with two-page résumés for each team member, plus one additional page of references.

Work Samples

You must submit work samples to be eligible for consideration. We encourage you to submit work samples that best illustrate your qualifications for this opportunity. If you have questions about which category fits you best, please contact us.

    • Visual Artists may submit a minimum of 8 and up to 10 digital images (no composites) of past work. If applying as a team, the team may submit no more than 10 images. Upload JPG files only; images must be 1920 pixels on the longest side, at least 72 dpi, and less than 2 MB in size.

Each work sample requires a brief description (75 words or less). That should include the following information, if applicable: project location, commissioning agency, budget, project partners, photo credit, and copyright owner.


One-page maximum that lists the name, email address, and phone number of up to three references who can speak to your professional history and community involvement. Briefly note how you know the person. Teams should include no more than three references combined.

5 Help

5 Help


If you have questions regarding the application, please contact:

Andy Le

If you have questions related to the project, please contact:

Selina Hunstiger

Deadline: applications must be received no later than 4:00 pm PST on Friday, March 1, 2019.