“Waterworks Gardens” is an environmental artwork that naturally treats stormwater, enhances an on-site wetland, provides garden rooms, and creates eight acres of new open space for public use. The stormwater treatment ponds and the wetland form an earth/water sculpture which funnels, captures, and releases water. The place invites people to observe the natural processes of water purification while connecting them to the cycles and mysteries of water. With the garden as its conceptual framework, the project communicates a story about the purification of water. Landforms, plantings, water bodies, and garden rooms are abstractly expressed as a large scale flowering plant, symbolic of the filtering power of plants to cleanse water. The progression of five garden rooms engages the visitor on an intimate scale and follows the story of the water’s cycle: impure, working, mysterious, beautiful, and life-sustaining. Garden Rooms:
This feature evokes the root of the plant through its use of stone and metal and its underground watercourse. Stormwater spills into a grate-covered channel that cuts through the geometry of a basalt colonnade. The columns’ perspective focuses the view toward an overlook, then onto the first stormwater pond and the wetlands below. Red quartzite and pebble paving suggest a river wash and echo the flow of the grate-covered water. At the overlook, the water splashes into the open system of ponds.
“The Funnel” consists of a series of terraced leaf-shaped ponds connected by the path, which assumes the form of a stem. As the visitor travels down the hill, landforms heighten, the leaf-shaped ponds become smaller, and the plants are taller. “The Grotto”
At the bottom of the hill, cleansed stormwater cascades into “The Grotto”, which is shaped like a seed pod. Craggy shotcrete walls, evergreen plantings, a fountain, water seeps, and pools create a dank, fertile environment. A mosaic in the form of a sprouting seed pod is inlaid on the ground plane, walls, and benches. Mahogany-red beach pebbles sprout from the sea-blue marble pod underfoot and trace rootlike tendrils up the grotto walls. Richly textured benches of multicolored marble and pebbles provide a place for repose. “The Passage”
Traversing “The Passage” evokes a sense of calm. The path runs along a row of Lombardy poplars and past three circular ponds, which symbolize the fruit of the plant. “The Release”
In “The Release”, cleansed water passes from the pond system to the wetlands, and from there to Springbrook Creek. The ribbonlike islands and channels are reminiscent of a flame/flower form and are reinforced by bands of native plantings. The path meanders through the wetlands and connects with regional trail systems. PROJECT CREDITS:
Lorna Jordan, Concept and Design Team Leader
In association with Jones & Jones, Brown & Caldwell, and Fuji Industries A Project of the King County Public Arts Program and the King County Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the City of Renton
“The Grotto”, third of 5 garden rooms
This is a view of the west entry to “The Grotto” which is the third of five garden rooms within “Waterworks Gardens”. Shaped as a seed pod, “The Grotto” has shotcrete walls, benches, recycled stone mosaic, a stormwater fountain, pools, and plantings. These work together to evoke a mysterious, fertile environment. “Waterworks Gardens” is an environmental artwork and earth/water sculpture located on the northern border of a water reclamation plant. The project naturally treats stormwater, enhances an on-site wetland, provides five garden rooms, and creates eight acres of new open space for public use. The progression of five garden rooms engages the visitor on an intimate scale and follows the story of the water’s cycle: impure, working, mysterious, beautiful, and life-sustaining.
The most recent of the three Washington State earthworks that I visited on my earthworks tour is the Lorna Jordan Waterworks Garden from 1997. Of the three earthworks I’d visited on this day this one in Renton WA was the only one I’d been to before. It is more or less on the route between the Lake Washington Loop and the Interurban Trail and I the first time I ever rode on the Interurban Trail I had checked out the park. I usually never had much time, either on my way somewhere else or reaching it at the end of a longer ride so this was the first time I took the opportunity to really explore it. It was though toward the end of the day and the sun was sinking into smoke filled skies (making for a rather apocalyptic looking sun) . This does lead to some of my photos being a bit blurry as the sunlight waned.