Another shoreline street end project has just been completed at 11th Ave NW near Fred Meyer. The project was a joint venture between the University of Washington’s Landscape Architecture students and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The students have been working hard on the street end redesign since January; over the course of 20 weeks they’ve given the area a complete facelift, incorporating elements of Native American and Nordic design to make the area more accessible and appealing. SDOT and the UW students celebrated the completion of the project at a dedication ceremony on Thursday at the street end.
UW student Katherine Christianson helped design a series of colorful birdhouses for the resident purple martin population, who typically nest in the area in spring and summer.
Christianson explained that there are a number of Nordic and Native American elements, including a May Pole that during the summer solstice will act as a sundial and cast perfect shadows on a series of lines on the ground at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. There are also a series of blocks that are arranged in the pattern of the constellation Orion, most visible during the spring and summer months.
The new street end also includes a light pole near the water that has a series of colored lights, powered from a solar panel at the top of the pole. The lights are carved in colored glass plates, inspired by Salish designs.
The project is part of the Shoreline Street End Program, which works to preserve and improve public waterway access. Jon Layzer from SDOT said the projects are important for Seattle residents, as many of us don’t live right on the water but desire access. “This is an effort to reclaim those spaces,” Layzer said at the dedication.
Daniel Winterbottom, UW landscape architect instructor, said he’s thrilled to see the project completed, despite some backlash from some community members in the primarily industrial adjacent areas. “This is an industrial area, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have jewels of nature threaded through it,” Winterbottom said.
According to SDOT, there are 149 public streets in the city that end on waterfronts, with nearly two-thirds unmarked, overgrown, or with private encroachments. Nine of these are slated for improvements this year and two of those are now complete. The new public space features a pedestrian bridge, cedar deck, bench swing large enough for two, and landscaped planting beds. There will be ongoing maintenance of invasive blackberry and erosion-control efforts will ensure the long-term sustainability of the site, SDOT tells us.