Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel
A transit project becomes a model for collaboration and a touchstone for local history.
The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel marked a significant moment in the history of public art. Artists worked closely with tunnel engineers and station designers to develop the five underground stations and street-level plazas, setting an early and comprehensive example for what has come to be known as “design team collaboration.” The project also become a model for integrating art into transportation infrastructure, committing to early and meaningful involvement by artists and devising innovative working methodologies, supportive contracting and construction procedures. These efforts created a foundation for art integration in later projects, particularly King County Metro Park & Ride developments, Sound Transit Link Light Rail, and the Seattle Streetcar.Since the tunnel was built and its artworks installed, much has changed in the city, its downtown streetscape, and the stations themselves. But as this transformation continues, care is being paid to preserve the artworks as part of the region’s history, protecting them as markers of who we are and what we value in our community. The works are more than mere decoration; they are anchors of the transit system, telling the story of this place today and for many generations to come.
Continue Reading ›
Artists engaged in the development of the tunnel and associated stations include Jack Mackie, Alice Adams, Sonja Ishii, Laureen Mar, Maggie Smith, Kate Ericson, Mel Ziegler, Laura Sindell, Brian Goldbloom, Garth Edwards, Jim Garrett, Vicki Scuri, Robert Teeple, Bill Bell, Bill Whipple, Fay Jones, Roger Shimomura, Gene Gentry McMahon, Heather Ramsay, Christian French, Maren Hassinger, Virginia Paquette, Susan Point, and Dylan Rey.Note: King County ended bus operations in the tunnel in March 2019, in anticipation of increased light rail service by Sound Transit. The County expects to transfer ownership of the tunnel and associated station sites to Sound Transit in 2022. This transfer includes the stewardship of all site-specific and integrated artworks.