Longboat Reed Rookery + Root
Bellevue City Hall
This massive bronze sculpture was cast from the roots of 13 ancient trees, and metal woven together with lighting is a nest by day and a boat by night.
Around the turn of the 20th century, massive ancient cedar trees were harvested from this site by Japanese immigrant “stump farmers.” Over time, their farmland gave way to the urban growth that became the downtown core of Bellevue.The Root, a monumental bronze sculpture in Bellevue City Hall’s main outdoor plaza, was cast in more than 250 pieces from a compilation of 13 western red cedar root systems originally harvested in the 1800s on the Olympic Peninsula. It weights over 10,500 pounds. Placed on its side to reveal the network of roots that provide support for the tree, the artwork offers a metaphor for the hidden infrastructure that supports the city, including legal and transportation systems, and water and energy utilities. The exposed roots are also meant to emphasize the importance of transparency in government and the city’s interdependent structures and functions.
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The sculpture’s silver color—cedar turns silver when exposed to the natural elements—links it to the high-tech world around it. The movement reflected in the piece’s black slate base recalls the swirling grain patterns in the smooth heartwood, heightening the ambiguity of the root itself as water, wood, or wind.
My father practiced the Japanese art of Bonsai. Miniature ancient trees sculpted and meticulously pruned by his hands surrounded me and gave me a deep appreciation for nature and our vision of what nature looks like. –Dan Corson
A living nurse tree was planted directly behind The Root to mark the start of this new civic space. Years from now, it will be gone, replaced by a magnificent old tree.
In Longboat-Reed-Rookery, located at the parking garage entrance, metalwork and fiber-optic lighting are woven together to evoke both the blue heron nests in the nearby Mercer Slough and the longboats historically used by Native Americans to travel through the swampy water. Just as birds form, insulate, and soften their nests with a miscellaneous combination of found materials, Corson built this work from a collection of unusual materials. By day it looks like a heron’s nest. But by night, the glowing lighting winds through the silver reeds to reveal the form of the boat floating in the air.
About the Location
Bellevue City Hall Once the site of a commercial telecommunications office space that fell fallow, Bellevue City Hall is now a world-class civic center. Located downtown at NE 4th Street and 110th Ave NE, the spacious building and public plaza features four artworks commissioned from three Pacific Northwest artists. Inspired by Bellevue’s evolution and surrounding natural beauty, the…
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