Aurora “Bright Dawn” Process 1
Aurora “Bright Dawn” is inspired by its site, the neighborhood and the hues of the sunrise. In 2017, the Aurora Licton Urban Village Community (ALUV) wrote a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) grant to promote community identity and pedestrian passage along Aurora Avenue, between 85th Street and 105th Street. These two streets mark the Southern and Northern borders of their neighborhood while Aurora divides it in two.
Aurora is a busy arterial with little amenity, color, landscape or community identity.
Vehicular traffic exceeds 30,000 vehicles a day along Aurora Avenue. It has higher than average collision rates and a poor pedestrian environment. ALUV proposed to improve five pedestrian crossings, bringing their community together and promoting safety. We were hired to help ALUV realize their goals through the SDOT Community Grant, focused on promoting safe passage and community identity along Aurora. The grant was administered by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, as a Public Art Opportunity. We were selected through a juried competition and interview process. Once selected, we did a site review and we looked at several options, including placing markers along Aurora at the designated crossings, painting medians and telephone poles to unify the streetscape and reduce visual clutter, and aesthetically renovating the pedestrian bridge at Oak Tree Village, located at 102nd Street.
This was a proposal to reduce clutter by painting the medians and telephone poles.
Our core team included artist/designer, Alexandr Polzin, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture project manager, Kristen Ramirez, SDOT Engineer, Stephen Wilson, and SDOT project manager, Denny Nguyen. Also, we worked closely with ALUV, represented by Leah Anderson and Kevin Whatley. It takes a village to achieve a project like Aurora “Bright Dawn,” as the pedestrian bridge at 102nd Street crosses over Aurora, which is a state highway.
The Pedestrian Bridge as it was. While it has beautiful form, it was drab and uninviting.
ALUV supported the aesthetic renovation of the bridge, as it aligned with their goals for promoting safe passage and their identity on Aurora. The team agreed that the bridge presented the best opportunity for realizing the goals of the grant. Thus, we set to work building consensus among the many players and agencies who controlled the fate of this bridge, including the larger ALUV community.
Licton Springs, referencing a well head, inspired the use of water hues, to promote calm.
The water hues are soothing but against the blue sky and Seattle’s gray clouds we determined that we needed something more. The cool blues blended too closely with the sky. We needed brighter hues. Aurora is derived from the Latin word for dawn. The bridge is is oriented on an east-west alignment. The sun arcs over the site from dawn to dusk. We became inspired by the movement of the sun over the bridge and the name, Aurora, translated from Latin, meaning dawn.
Rosy dawn hues inspired by the name, Aurora, and the site seemed most compelling.
We met with the ALUV Community and we presented two options: water hues and rosy dawn hues. Overwhelmingly, the community preferred the warm tones. Ultimately, we used both, but prioritized the rosy dawn hues for the central span and the blue hues for the ramp. Translucent KodaXT polycarbonate fins, attached to the existing railing, carry these colors across the span of the bridge.
As a part of the design process, we created a bridge visualization with orange railings complemented by brightly colored fins.
Above is the railing painting in process during the application of the orange primer.
This is a test application of the stencils for the column mockups by Purcell Painting.
The hardware mockup with wood fins, is a check for size and fit with SDOT oversight.
Above are the fins, stacked on palettes, in preparation for installation, left image.
On a sunny day, the fins glow with light, transforming the bridge into a rainbow of hues.
Even on a cloudy day, with the bridge partially completed, it is dramatic.
The construction-fabrication of the art started in the fall of 2018, under the guidance of C.A. Carey Corporation. Dan Peters was our project manager. Everything went according to plan and turned out to be a much simpler application than we ever expected. We never closed lanes on Aurora, except once, a partial closure, while the columns were pressure washed. Both the painting and the fin installation were done without netting or lane closures. The contractors, Purcell for painting, and Carey for installation, were confident that they could complete the work without incident, and they did.
We are very pleased with the process and the project. Everyone remained engaged over the course of the installation. The last fins were installed in mid-April, completing the work. All of us are moved by the results. On April 27th, this project will be dedicated on International Sculpture Day, a day for celebrating how Public Art and Sculpture promote more livable communities and public space. Watch for Aurora “Bright Dawn” Part 2, celebrating the completed work.
Aurora Avenue North Improvement Project, “Bright Dawn”, Seattle, WA
Materials: Koda XT Colored Polycarbonate Panels & Paint
Height: 25 Feet, Width: 45 Feet, Length: 175 Feet
Contact: Kristen Ramirez, Office of Arts and Culture: 206.615.1095
Artist: Vicki Scuri SiteWorks with Alexandr Polzin