Call Detail
City of Seattle: Elliott Bay Seawall Habitat and Tidelines Artwork
Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs
PO Box 94748
Seattle, WA 98124-4748

Contact Email:
Call Type: Unspecified
Eligibility: Unspecified
State: Unspecified
Entry Deadline: 10/26/12
Application Closed
Media Images:16

CaFE question: Description

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), seeks an artist or artist team to join the design team and develop one or more detailed proposals for site-responsive artwork for the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. The intent of including an artist in the design team is to develop integrated and/or discrete artworks that contribute to the overall project goals of both habitat restoration and the development of public open space along the seawall. This project is one of the earliest components of the redevelopment of Seattle’s Central Waterfront. The call is open to professional artists residing in the United States. The initial concept design budget is $30,000 inclusive of all proposal-related costs. This call for artists is the first of a series of calls for permanent and temporary art that will occur in conjunction with this major infrastructure project. The application deadline is 11 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 (Pacific Daylight Time).

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Transportation, seeks an artist or artist team to join the design team and develop one or more detailed proposals for site-responsive artwork for the Elliott Bay Seawall Project.


Project Description
The Elliott Bay Seawall Project will replace the existing seawall in downtown Seattle from South Washington Street to Broad Street with a structure that meets current ecological, safety and design standards.
The Elliott Bay Seawall will:

  • Protect Seattle’s downtown waterfront from wind-driven storm waves and the erosive tidal forces of Puget Sound and Elliott Bay.

  • Support and protect major public and private utilities, including power for downtown Seattle and the western seaboard, natural gas, steam, water, sanitary sewer and telecommunications.

  • Support the existing elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct (State Route 99), the Alaskan Way surface street and future right-of-way uses, the ferry terminal and rail lines, all of which transport local commuters and visitors as well as local, regional and international freight.

  • Provide access to waterfront piers.

  • Improve the degraded ecosystem functions, marine habitat and processes of the Elliott Bay near-shore in the vicinity of the seawall.

  • Provide the structural support for new public spaces along Seattle’s waterfront.

The Seawall Project will replace three types of deteriorated seawall structures along the waterfront, constructed between 1911 and 1936, that range in size from approximately 15 to 60 feet wide. The city plans to replace the most deteriorated sections of the central seawall beginning in late 2013, with a second phase of work for the north seawall following as funding is available. The central seawall, the focus area of this art opportunity, is between South Washington Street (at the Washington Street Boat Landing) and Virginia Street (at the northern edge of Pier 62/63), and the north seawall extends from Virginia Street north to Broad Street (just south of Olympic Sculpture Park). The new seawall’s service life will be approximately 100 years.

Habitat Restorations Objectives

As part of the Seawall Project, the city of Seattle is committed to improving the near-shore ecosystem of Elliott Bay, with a special focus on restoring the juvenile salmon migration corridor. Every year tens of thousands of salmon migrate along the Elliott Bay Seawall and then up the Green/Duwamish River and its tributaries to spawn. After beginning their lives in freshwater rivers juvenile salmon then swim down the Green/Duwamish River to enter Elliott Bay in the spring and summer, traveling along the Elliott Bay Seawall and Seattle’s urbanized downtown waterfront. Because the Seawall Project area is such an important link in the salmon migratory route, improving salmon habitat along the new seawall is pivotal to the success of regional salmon recovery. Juvenile salmonids are less susceptible to predators in locations with better habitat conditions, which may include features such as enhanced substrate to support plant and invertebrate life, riparian vegetation, shallow/intertidal water and lighted waters. Replacement of the seawall provides a unique opportunity to incorporate design elements that restore these conditions to improve the migration corridor.

Urban Design Objectives

There are many projects underway or planned for Seattle’s central waterfront in the next five to 10 years. Currently, the Washington State Department of Transportation is replacing the aged Alaskan Way Viaduct, which bisects downtown and the waterfront, with a bored tunnel. Upon completion of the tunnel (in late 2015), the viaduct will be demolished and a new surface street will be constructed in its place to support the tunnel and reconnect downtown Seattle to the waterfront. The city and state are working collaboratively across projects and agencies to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape Seattle’s waterfront.

Replacing the seawall is the foundational step to this future Seattle waterfront. A concept design and framework plan for the waterfront has been completed by james corner field operations as part of Waterfront Seattle. The plan includes public parks and paths that will enliven the waterfront while also connecting it with public spaces to the east. A pedestrian walkway called the Tideline Promenade will be built atop the new seawall and connect the future waterfront spaces from north to south; these new spaces will be built with a combination of public and private funds over the next decade. Throughout 2011 and 2012, the Waterfront Seattle team and Seawall Project designers have collaborated on seawall placement to maximize flexibility for the future waterfront design. Design of the central seawall is moving rapidly to allow this public safety project to be built as soon as possible. Completion of 60 percent of the design is expected in December 2012.

The Waterfront Seattle Art Plan , A Working Plan for Art on the Central Seattle Waterfront, was completed as part of the Waterfront Seattle framework plan. The Art Plan identified the seawall as a core site for art, in particular calling out art for the seawall that reveals tidal processes and creates a more bio-positive environment. The Seawall Project design team includes artist team Haddad|Drugan, who, in collaboration with the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, will propose the integration of several artworks into the Seawall Project in a way that interprets, develops and applies concepts of the Waterfront Art Plan specifically to opportunities presented by the Seawall Project.

This call is open to professional artists residing in the United States. Students are not eligible to apply.


Project Partners
The selected artist will work with project designers for both the Elliott Bay Seawall Project and Waterfront Seattle (including artist team Haddad|Drugan), SDOT, other city departments and community representatives under the direction of the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to select sites and develop art for the Elliott Bay Seawall Project.

The selected artist will design one or more permanent outdoor artworks that reveal, respond to, and activate tidal and ecological conditions of the seawall, Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. Working closely with Seawall Project engineers, biologists, ecologists and designers, the artist will develop artwork that relates to the complex ecology of the site, both interpreting and expanding the ways in which the seawall performs concurrently as infrastructure and habitat. This is a unique opportunity to create art that transcends illustrating science to become a poetic mechanism of ecological restoration. The successful artist will create one or more works that are inventive and engaging, manipulating, synthesizing and drawing attention to the many environmental phenomena at work in the project area. The vision for the project is that the artworks resulting from this commission are both catalysts for and a barometer of ecological function along the restored waterfront.

The project site is within the Central Seawall area (between South Washington and Virginia streets). The primary site for the artwork is currently imagined to be within a new “pocket beach” near the Washington Street Boat Landing. This is an area where the “face” of the seawall will be softened with a beach, providing an important respite for juvenile salmon in their migratory route. This location has great historical significance for Seattle as part of the pre-development tidal flats at the mouth of the Duwamish River, a Native American encampment, and the location of the city’s first economic engine, Yesler Sawmill (at the base of the historic “skid road”). Additional sites for artwork within the project area may include attachments to the seawall face and public piers, habitat benches (made of loose or confined substrate), public access points between piers, and upland areas along the pedestrian promenade. The project team is currently investigating the possibilities for placing art in the intertidal zone.

It is anticipated that an artist will join the Seawall Project team at the end of the 60-percent design phase in late 2012. At that time, feasibility of potential sites for artwork will be more apparent and the team will have completed a comprehensive art programming plan for the Seawall Project. The site research and analysis completed by Haddad|Drugan, as well as the ongoing work of Waterfront Seattle’s art planners,will become available to the selected artist for reference during the design process.

The selected artist will initially be contracted for concept design only, which will occur in early 2013. The artist will join the Seawall Project design team to develop a proposal for an artwork that can have one or more components by late March 2013 (date subject to change). Upon acceptance of the proposal by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs’ Public Art Advisory Committee and the identification of construction funding, the selected artist will then be contracted for design development, engineering, fabrication and installation of the artwork. Artists applying for this project should understand that the funding for the Seawall Project, including all related percent-for-art funds, is subject to the voter approval of a bond measure that will be included in the November 2012 ballot. Seawall 1% for Art funds will be allocation among various artwork projects after November.

The Seawall Project is scheduled to reach final design in late 2013. The selected artist(s) will be required to work within a compressed timeline to develop all aspects of the artwork that require project integration. Construction is anticipated to occur over a period of three seasons, with completion scheduled for early 2016.

The initial budget for concept design is $30,000. Following approval of the proposed concept subsequent funds will become available for design development, engineering, fabrication, and installation of the artwork. A range of total funding for the art will be provided when the artist begins the concept design phase.

The application deadline is 11 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, (Pacific Daylight Time).

Applications must include:
  • Sixteen (16) artwork images

  • Letter of interest (not to exceed 2,000 characters) that includes specific references to the artist’s interests and expertise with natural history and science.

  • Resume

  • Image identification list

  • References

  • Other questions as specified

The artist will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
  • Quality of concept, design and craftsmanship of past artworks.

  • Demonstrated long-term commitment to scientific exploration or natural history as part of creative practice.

  • Past experience exploring ecological processes and/or habitat enhancement in site-specific artworks.

  • Proven ability to collaborate in design teams, with design professionals, and with community stakeholders. If the artist has not worked on a public art commission with a design team, please demonstrate other commensurate collaborative experiences creating art.

  • Demonstrated ability to complete projects on time and within budget.

  • Availability to work in a compressed timeframe.

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs is committed to reflecting the diversity and cultural richness of our city in the selection of artists and artworks.

The selection will take place in two parts. During the first round of the selection process, a panel of arts professionals, client representatives and community members will review the applicants’ images, qualifications and other materials. The panelists will identify up to four finalists to interview at a second panel meeting two to three weeks later. The panel will select one artist to be awarded the commission.



Please contact Kelly Pajek at

For assistance with the CaFE online application process, contact CaFE tech support at (888) 562-7232 or, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

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