The newest earthwork in the King County Public Art collection, Pillow Field by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot, provides pedestrian connection along SW 98th Street between White Center’s Greenbridge housing development and the central business district and transit center. It also connects the residents surrounding the CBD and transit center to the library and youth center at Greenbridge.
The remarkable project, completed in July, is an illustration of what can be achieved when contemporary artists’ perspectives are brought into the design of our public spaces. The 227 earthen mounds, representing the cultural diversity of White Center, are covered by creeping thyme which will blanket the 16,000 square foot site with pink blossoms from late spring to late summer. A generous, central staircase and ADA-accessible ramp frame the sculpted quadrants of the earthwork and replace the former tough terrain and steep slope. This public artwork is the first permanent piece by Cao and Perrot in the United States.
The SW 98th Street pedestrian corridor has been finished for a month but it already supports a high level of positive community uses, from high school athletic training to elders enjoying their daily stroll. Pillow Field is part of King County’s successful community initiative, begun in 2005, which is intended to spur private investment and foster a vibrant, healthy, mixed-income community in White Center. The corridor was developed as a result of the Land Use, Transportation, Air Quality and Health Study, which found that people who live in walk-able communities are healthier.
Although many residents are enjoying the benefits of the new pedestrian corridor, sadly, vandalism has caused King County to close portions of the site for safety reasons. Vandals stole the stainless steel hand-railing and cut the electrical service to the pathway lights. The corridor’s central stairway is unsafe for use at night without the lights and handrails; however, the ADA-accessible ramp remains open. The area was also repeatedly vandalized with graffiti. The 98th Street Corridor is a collaboration between King County’s divisions of Roads Services and Parks, 4Culture, and the White Center Community Development Association. Pillow Fields was partially funded through the King County 1% for Art fund. The project also received $1.5 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
About the artists:
Andy Cao’s work melds landscape and art. In 2006, he teamed up with landscape designer Xavier Perrot and formed the award-winning cao | perrot studio. Drawing on their diverse cultural backgrounds, Cao and Perrot, respectively born in Vietnam and France, create environments that they describe as “places for dreaming.” Their projects cross commercial, artistic and residential boundaries, and vary in size from intimate courtyards to a 600-acre public park. The artists often employ humble, everyday or recycled materials. The result is work with an organic, handmade feel-spontaneous and low tech-that defies specific meaning, but invites visitors into a contemplative world of color and sensuality.
To find out more about the artists: http://www.4culture.org/publicart/registry/sites/sites_artist.aspx?ArtistID=8
To find out more about the 98th Street Corridor: http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/dnrp/newsroom/newsreleases/2010/August/0813VandalsCauseClosure.aspx
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