Ktc%20thumb%20featured

Climbable Art

As soon as the ribbon was cut at the new Transit Center in Kirkland, Washington, people began climbing on the public art – just as the artist intended. That result was achieved by a well-suited team with diverse expertise, creatively collaborating throughout the process.

The artist’s vision required the stone be cut in complex shapes, the facets finished in a variety of textures, and the pieces precisely fit together.

“I knew what I was asking was really complex, with stones cut in this intricate fashion,” says artist Carolyn Law. “I was really lucky to find Yellow Mountain. I talked to them about ideas as much as I talked to them about logistics and details.”

YMSW’s granite selection met Law’s need for a broad range of hues, including red, black, gray and white. And to accentuate the many facets of the stone pieces, the artist used seven different finishes from polished to rustic hand finishes. “Yellow Mountain opened the door to all these finishes. They didn’t limit me,” Caroline says.

Knowing there’s very little wiggle room in a public art budget, we worked with Caroline to find the best solution that met both her aesthetic and budget. “Yellow Mountain was really straightforward to work with,” says Caroline. “They were very careful to let me know what they thought would work best within my budget. Pricing was straight up and didn’t deviate. That was wonderful.”

Executing the installation posed additional challenges because of the tight tolerances and the weight of the stone; the largest block weighed about 3500 pounds, and the irregular shapes that are nestled up against each other have a maximum tolerance of one quarter of an inch and are installed on concrete terracing. With such tight tolerances, there wasn’t enough room for “strapping,” the process normally used to maneuver stone into place. And sliding stone against stone would have damaged the finishes. So Steve Siebert of Garden Stone Masonry used this unique, and we think brilliant, installation trick: thin slices of ice blocks were used as rollers to move the stones. As the ice melted, the stones settled into their exact positions.

Caroline wanted to work with natural stone because, "I wanted a material that people would gravitate towards. Concrete does not do it. It doesn't have the same sensory impact as natural stone." Watching people climb among the irregular shapes or sit and caress the intricate finishes – would appear to prove her right.


Topic: Inspirations