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City of Seattle Seeks Artwork for Salmon Bay Pump Station

Posted by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
City of Seattle Seeks Artwork for Salmon Bay Pump Station




The Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create artwork for SPU’s Ship Canal Water Quality Project (SCWQP) Pump Station. The new pump station will be located at 24th Ave NW and Shilshole Ave NW in the Ballard neighborhood along the shoreline of Salmon Bay. The artist/s will work with the city and the project design team to develop a site integrated or site specific artwork that is reflective of Coast Salish historic and cultural connections to the Salmon Bay and Shilshole areas.

$185,000.00 to design, fabricate and install the artwork.

The call is open to established professional artists residing in in the United States and British Columbia. As the artwork will recognize the original residents of the area and should be reflective of the Coast Salish cultures, artists who have a historic and/or artistic connection to the tribal peoples of this region are strongly encouraged to apply. Artists may apply individually or as a team of no more than two.

Project Description
One artist or artist team will be selected to work with SPU staff, design team, the SPU Artist in Residence, stakeholders, and the Office of Art & Culture to create original artwork within the Ship Canal Water Quality Project Pump Station project site. The selected artist/s will develop outdoor permanent artwork that responds to the Coast Salish history and present condition of the Salmon Bay and Shilshole areas and local estuaries. The artwork could take the form of, but is not limited to, large-scale sculpture, cast metal, glass, light, carvings, murals or site enhancements; it can be a singular element, or a series of pieces, created in either two- or three-dimensional media. Artwork can be created as a free-standing element (or multiple elements) along the perimeter fence or landscaped areas, or can be integrated with the Pump Station building as a two- or three-dimensional artwork. Artist/s are encouraged to explore a diversity of media for this project.

In addition to reflecting Coast Salish historic and cultural connections to Salmon Bay, the artist or artist team may consider incorporating themes that raise awareness to the function of the facility and the health of Seattle’s waterways.

The future Ship Canal Water Quality Project Pump Station project site will not be accessible to the public. However, opportunities to engage landscaped areas along the property line on 24th Ave NW will be available. The artwork design should be visible from a distance and should provide a marker for pedestrians and drivers at all times.

Site History
Salmon Bay and Shilshole Bay have been an important place to Coast Salish people for thousands of years. For the Shilshoolabsh (also known as the Shilshole) people, Salmon Bay was the site of the village known as Tucked Away Inside and a number of sites in the vicinity, on both bays, are associated with them and remain culturally significant to their descendants. Other Coast Salish peoples used the bays as a route between the interior lakes and waterways and Puget Sound. Plant and animal resources abound in the bays. Fish, including salmon, shellfish in the tidal zone, aquatic and shoreline plants, and other materials that can be gathered from the sea and shore, are important resources that play a significant role in the culture of the Coast Salish.

The bays have also historically been one end of a route between Puget Sound and interior waterways. Using canoes, the Coast Salish traveled inland via the bays, Lake Union’s small outlet creek, a portage between Portage Bay and Union Bay in Lake Washington and on to lakes and rivers in the Cascade foothills. People from around the region passed through the bays on their way to fish inland waters, gather plant materials, hunt game animals, fish for salmon, gather shellfish, or to trade and socialize with other communities.

In the post-contact era, the Shilshoolabsh continued to live at Tucked Away Inside until government officials displaced them for construction of the locks in 1914. Some of its residents moved out of the area, but others stayed in Ballard, living amongst non-Native people. Today, culturally significant places on the bays are accessed and utilized to the extent possible and tribal members fish for salmon at the Ballard Locks.

About SPU

Seattle Public Utilities manages drainage and wastewater to protect water quality and habitat in our local waterways, reduce sewer backups and overflows, and prevent flooding and landslides in Seattle.

The Plan to Protect Seattle’s Waterways is SPU’s strategy to control combined sewage overflows and reduce stormwater-related pollution in Seattle’s waterways. A major component of this work is the Ship Canal Water Quality Project. The SCWQP is a major infrastructure investment that requires a prolonged period of construction. The Pump Station will pump water that builds up in the tunnel out to the West Point Water Treatment facility.

The following vision and goals guide art related to Ship Canal Water Quality Project:

• Increase public awareness of the function of the SCWQP and water quality projects in general
• Embody Seattle’s vision for a diverse and equitable community
• Make an invisible system more visible
• Connect people to the flow of water through their urban environment
• Connect people to their own use of water in their homes and property and how this relates to a larger system and local water bodies
• Create meaningful, inspiring, thought-provoking art experiences in the public realm, both during construction and as a permanent part of the urban landscape

Artwork Location Description
The new SPU Ship Canal Water Quality Project Pump House will be located in the Ballard neighborhood along 24th Ave NW and Shilshole Ave NW. The facility will not be accessible to the public but will be visible to pedestrians and drivers on Shilshole Ave NW and 24th Ave NW. The northern perimeter of the site (Shilshole Ave N) is adjacent to a railroad corridor, the eastern edge is adjacent to industrial facilities and the south edge will possibly be developed in the future. The west edge of the property (24th Ave NW) will be landscaped and can allow for public interaction. The 24th Ave NW ends at Salmon Bay and provides pedestrian access to a public pier.

Selection Process
The selection process will take place in two parts. During the first round, a panel of arts professionals, tribal representatives, city staff 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 or artist team to be awarded the commission. The artist selection panel will include enrolled members of local federally recognized tribes in order to ensure accurate representation of Coast Salish art and culture.

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

• Connection to tribal nations, especially an artistic connection to the Coast Salish region and cultures
• Quality of concept, design and craftsmanship of past works.
• Visual and technical sophistication.
• Creativity of approach.
• Demonstrated understanding of the culture, history and art of the Coast Salish tribes
• The ability to produce durable outdoor art.
• A proven ability to coordinate and collaborate with project managers and design professionals.
• Demonstrated ability to complete projects on time and within budget.

In alignment with the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, we work to eliminate institutional racism in our Public Art programs, policies and practices.


  • Applications close 11 p.m., Thursday, January 26, 2017 (Pacific Standard Time).
  • Artist Selection- winter 2017
  • 60% Design completion- spring 2017
  • Coordination with design team- 1st and 2nd Q 2017
  • 90% Design – fall 2017
  • Construction start – 2022
  • Project completion – 2023



We are offering a free, optional workshop that will provide some general information about the Ship Canal Water Quality Project Salmon Bay Pump Station and the CaFE online application system.

  • Thursday , January 5, 2017 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm
  • Daybreak Star Cultural Center, 5011 Bernie Whitebear Way, Seattle

RSVP is requested but not mandatory, and having your name will help us with planning and any updates.

How to Apply
Apply ONLY through  Applications will not be accepted by postal mail or email.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Jason Huff, 206-684-7278 or