Plans are already underway for large-scale artwork at three Sound Transit light rail stations in Kent and Federal Way for when the 7.8-mile extension from SeaTac opens in 2024.
Sound Transit picked seven artists and artist teams earlier this summer to integrate artworks at stations, garages and plazas to enhance the rider experience along the Federal Way Link Extension.
The agency will spend $3 million for eight permanent artworks, including three at the Kent/Des Moines station, two at the South 272nd Street station in Kent and three at the Federal Way Transit Center station, said Sound Transit spokesman Scott Thompson. The cost includes design, oversight, engineering, materials, fabrication and installation.
“Art in our civic-shared spaces makes people feel welcome and contributes to more livable and walkable neighborhoods,” Thompson said in an email. “Communities that Sound Transit serves have high expectations for the design quality of the light rail stations, which they see as being an urban growth and economic engine for their neighborhoods.
“Cities where Sound Transit stations are located want to see their distinctive character reflected through art in public spaces and they speak up about this expectation during the project planning and design process. The artwork also provides distinctive neighborhood landmarks that helps differentiate stations.”
Every light rail station in the current system features artwork. Sound Transit established its art program in 1997 with renewed commitments to integrated art in its projects in Sound Move, ST2 and ST3 voter-approved measures. Sound Transit Art utilizes funds from 1 percent of hard construction budgets as calculated in the voter-approved capital project initiatives. The art funds are locally generated funds only, no federal funding is used, Thompson said.
“Our stations and facilities are large structures and expected to last for generations,” Thompson said. “The artwork scales must be large and durable for successful integration in our projects. Every light rail station platform is 375 feet long with adjacent plazas. The artwork budgets reflect this large size and expectation for long life.”
Since the Federal Way extension will take five years to build, the agency also will develop a temporary art program for the project. Budgets for temporary art projects range from $3,000 to $10,000 per artist for construction of wall murals, Thompson said. Locations, wall coverage and number of artists involved are still to be determined.
A panel of arts and design professionals, representatives from the cities and community members selected the artists earlier this summer to create unique art features at the three stations. Each artist is paid a percentage of the total budget. Artists also will receive additional oversight fees during the fabrication and installation phase of the project.
The specific locations and artists for each spot include:
• Kent/Des Moines station area: Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton of Houston, Texas-based RE:site Studio. They describe their work as “exploring notions of community, identity and narrative in the context of public space.”
• Kent/Des Moines station area plaza: Minnesota artist Michelle de la Vega. Drawing inspiration from her experience in dance and visual art, her practice includes stylized environment design.
• Kent/Des Moines and South 272nd Street garages: Tacoma artist Christopher Paul Jordan. Jordan creates murals and or sculptures devising passageways and opening portals encapsulating experiences, questions and memories in the future.
• South 272nd Street station area: Seattle artists Tory and Eroyn Franklin. The two have overlapping mediums as well as individual works, and combine comic artist/illustrator and permanent/installation for a storytelling approach to their work.
• Federal Way Transit Center station area: Boston artist Catherine Widgery. Widgery is an award-winning artist recognized for creating more than 40 site-specific pieces for the public realm throughout her career.
• Federal Way station plaza: New York City artist Donald Lipski. Recognized at an early age for his exceptional work, Lipski is a sculptor with a background in ceramics. His public installations enrich civic spaces and become landmarks for communities in cities from coast to coast.
• Federal Way Transit Center station garage: Colorado artist Christine Ngyuen. Drawing inspiration from nature, the sciences and the cosmos, Ngyuen’s work steps away from conventional representation of these themes.