‘round and ‘round

King County’s Department of Transportation, Metro Transit Division has constructed a new LEED-Gold certified Operations Building at the Atlantic/Central Bus Base (ACB). The ACB is especially important to transit service capacity because of its central location – nearly half of Metro’s fleet is dispatched from here.

The site is in the northeast corner of Seattle’s primary industrial area, and is near the International District/Chinatown, the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, and Safeco and Qwest Fields. It is bounded by Royal Brougham Way on the north, Airport Way South on the east, South Massachusetts Street on the south, and Sixth Avenue South on the West.

1,200 Metro operators now use the facility for dispatch, training, and breaks between split shifts. Metro administrators have office space here as well.

Artist Norie Sato was selected to join the design team with architecture and engineering firm, Tetra Tech and together they identified opportunities for integrated artwork. With ‘Round and ‘Round she has created a successful link to the Metro aesthetic and highlights the intersection between the building’s interior and exterior, public and private.

Each base – the Atlantic and the Central – operates separately, but similarly. Norie’s artwork embraces this interconnection, celebrating the various networks within the base and between the bus system, the county, and riders as well as the dispersal and return of the vehicles to and from the facility. Movement and rhythm are incorporated within the circular motifs of an interior terrazzo floor and a sculpture on the facade of the building.

Two intertwining labyrinths serve as a focal point of the 7,200 square foot terrazzo floor at the central spine of the facility. Each base is represented by a color, one by blue, the other by green and this differentiation is evidenced throughout the design. Medallions and circular aluminum and brass strips are imbedded for added visual interest.

These colors, forms, and materials extend outward to sculptural elements protruding through the lattice work of the green screen on the building’s exterior. Aluminum half-spheres and blue LEDs are installed on one side of the main entry door, and brass half-spheres and green LEDs are on the other. As plantings grow and envelop the screen, the artwork will be viewed as a secondary pattern in juxtaposition with the natural.

© Norie Sato ‘Round and ‘Round, 2011. Photo: Spike Mafford