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A river runs through Seattle's City Hall, as conceived by Kathryn Gustafson of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. Photo by blank14.

A river runs through Seattle's City Hall, as conceived by Kathryn Gustafson of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. Photo by blank14.

KUOW News

The Art Of Our City: Seattle City Hall

Marcie Sillman
12/13/2010

A river runs through it. Actually, it's more of a stream, flowing from Seattle's Justice Center right through City Hall.

TRANSCRIPT

Sound: (running water)

Sillman: "It all starts here, outside the municipal courthouse at Fifth and James."

On the building's south side, next to the smokers' area, there's a pool of water that flows into a drain.

Sillman: "Then it disappears."

You have to head west across Fifth Avenue to find it again.

Sillman: "Here I am, Seattle City Hall."

Yep, the stream re–emerges inside the building. It flows across the City Hall lobby under a metal grid. Then water comes up into a terraced waterfall, flowing west, toward Puget Sound. In 1999, city leaders decided they wanted a civic precinct that would foster public life. The scruffy 1960s era City Hall came down, and in 2005, this new metal and glass building replaced it.

Landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol had the idea of using water to unite City Hall with the Justice Center to the east and a third space to the west. The stream is a tip of the hat to the underwater springs you find all over Seattle.

Follow the stream west and you're back outside, facing Fourth Avenue. The water flows down a chute to a plaza just steps above the traffic.

Most people hurry through City Hall or the courthouse. They're busy. But if you've got a few minutes, sit a while and enjoy the water. They've reserved a couple of armchairs in the lobby for you. It's part of the Art of Our City. I'm Marcie Sillman.

© Copyright 2010, KUOW

The Art of Our City is an audio treasure hunt. Each 90–second installment introduces listeners to something new: from a temporary public artwork at the Seattle Center, to pocket parks, and other urban treats.

If you've got a suggestion for inclusion in this series, please email it to Marcie Sillman.

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