Not long ago, a visit to the old Seattle Public Utilities North Transfer Station in Wallingford (1350 N 34th St.) meant driving into a dark, stench-ridden structure surrounded by a thin concrete shell, where giant, dinosaur-like excavators consumed garbage in their steel jaws before spewing it into trucks bound for distant landfills.
Today, at the entrance to the swank new replacement facility (in the same location as the old one), and surrounded by native plantings and an elegant molded concrete facade, is a commissioned, site-specific sculpture by New York City–based artist Jean Shin, titled Reclaimed. In the spirit of the new complex, where waste is carefully sorted into various categories of renewables, Shin’s work is constructed from recycled rebar collected at the old facility.
The work’s 10,000 linear feet of rebar is entwined and fastened around a frame of sculpted steel posts and coated with a bright orange epoxy that sharply defines itself against the concrete, ferns, and glass that surround it. The crooked, twisting lengths of metal suggest tree roots, drainage systems and microbial life below the surface. On a sunny day, the effect is amplified by the presence of shadows that extend widely across its broad, open platform. A sparkling new playground across the street reveals a play structure that mimics the sculpture’s radiant hue.
For the contractor or homeowner eager to discard their load, it is a reminder of the interconnectedness of their built and natural environments.