Call Detail
City of Seattle: Burke-Gilman Trail

Contact Email:
Call Type: Unspecified
Eligibility: Unspecified
State: Unspecified
Entry Deadline: 8/1/11
Application Closed
Media Images:16

CaFE question: Description
The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation, seeks an artist or artist team to create a permanent, multi-site outdoor artwork at select locations along the Burke-Gilman Trail. The budget for this project is $80,000, all-inclusive. The call is open to artists residing in Washington state.

Background and History of the Trail

Developed on the site of the former Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern railroad, the Burke-Gilman Trail was one of the first “rail trails” developed in the United States. The original 12.1 miles of the trail were dedicated in 1978. Since that time, additional sections of the trail have been added to bring it to its current length of 13.9 miles in the city of Seattle. Beyond the Seattle city limits, the trail connects to the Sammamish River Trail as part of the King County Trail System. The Burke-Gilman Trail is a very popular multi-use trail, used for both recreational and commuter purposes. More than 3,000 cyclists per day have been counted on the trail during the warm-weather months.

Judge Thomas Burke, Daniel Gilman and ten other investors established the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad in 1885. The line was originally used to transport timber and coal and also transported passengers between Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls. Northern Pacific acquired the line in 1913, and it continued in fairly heavy use until 1963. The Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Burlington lines were merged in 1970 to become Burlington Northern Railroad. In 1971 Burlington Northern applied to abandon the line.

With the abandonment of the rail line, public debate ensued about the future use of the rail line and a citizen movement began to convert the tracks into a public trail. Finally in 1978 the collaboration of the city of Seattle, King County, the University of Washington and the Burke-Gilman Trail Park Committee resulted in the opening of the Burke-Gilman between Gasworks Park in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle and the city limits in Kenmore.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has three recent projects that have extended the pedestrian and bicycle corridor from Fremont all the way to Golden Gardens Park. The first two Burke-Gilman extension projects constructed sections of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard from the Ballard Locks to Golden Gardens Park. The first section, completed in 2005, starts at the Ballard Locks and continues to Northwest 60th Street. The second section, completed in 2008, starts at Northwest 60th Street and continues north to Golden Gardens Park.

SDOT is currently in the design phase for what is commonly referred to as “The Missing Link.” Construction is continuing to be delayed due to an appeal of SDOT’s SEPA Determination of Non-Significance. The "Missing Link" refers to the area in the South Ballard transportation corridor between 11th Avenue Northwest and the Ballard Locks.

This call is open to artists residing in Washington state. All members of an artist team must reside in Washington.

Artwork Scope

The selected artist will create a durable, permanent, outdoor artwork for two to five select locations along the trail. Potential artwork locations are identified on the attached map. The multi-site art installation will function as one artwork in which the various parts will combine to create a larger vision, and each part will also enliven its immediate space. The artwork will serve to identify the trail as a connective conduit of the city and should add an element of discovery to peoples’ experience of the trail. The selected artist must use the split section of the trail east of 40th Avenue East as a portion of the overall artwork. The artist will need to consider the many users of the trail, including cyclists and pedestrians, commuters and people out for a leisurely outing. People will encounter the artwork while moving at different speeds or pausing for a break along the trail. The artwork should be responsive to these circumstances in order to not increase the risk of accidents.

The artist will coordinate with staff in SDOT, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks), and the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs in the selection of sites and development of the artwork. The artwork will be reviewed on the basis of safety and maintenance issues that relate to the site of the urban trail. The artist will also meet with community representatives during the development of the project.

Sites Along the Trail

The trail traverses a diverse section of Seattle. Along the trail’s route one sees residential areas, the University of Washington, views of Lake Union, the Ship Canal and Puget Sound, as well as industrial and maritime areas. On the westernmost section, the terminus of the trail lands in Golden Gardens Park with a dramatic view of Puget Sound. This trail end is notable as it is a beginning and ending point for cyclists who are cycling across the country. Many sites important to the community exist along the trail, including the Fremont Bridge, the Chittenden Locks and various parks.

Several factors dictate the potential locations of artworks along the trail. The trail is located along sections of the shoreline that are under the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers in some locations. Other sections of the trail are on University of Washington property. Along its length the trail is maintained in some sections by SDOT and in some sections by Parks.

The attached map and photos show possible locations for artworks, as well as indicating which locations are not recommended for art. In each location, the actual footprint available for the artwork is small and often occupies a linear stretch near the trail. For traffic safety reasons the standard lateral clearance for any multi-use trail is two feet (three feet preferred) from the edge-of-pavement to the closest part of any fixed object.

$80,000 all inclusive

11pm (PDT), Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.

Applications must include:

  • Letter of interest (not to exceed 2,000 characters). Please read the prompt in CaFÉ before uploading your letter of interest. If you are applying as a team, the letter should clearly describe the contribution of each collaborator.

  • Résumé

  • Three references

  • Up to 16 images.

  • Image Identification List (not to exceed 500 characters for each image). If you are applying as a team, the image identification should list the name of the artist for each image submitted. Do not omit the Image Identification List or your application will be incomplete.

The artist will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Quality of concept, design and craftsmanship of past works.

  • The ability to produce durable outdoor art.

  • A proven ability to coordinate and collaborate with project managers, design professionals and community stakeholders.

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

The selection process will take place in two parts. During the first round, 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.

Applicants will be notified of the panel’s decision by e-mail by end of September 2011. The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs reserves the right not to select any of the applicants.

Please contact Jason Huff, Public Art Project Manager, at (206) 684-7278 or

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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