Bellingham Arts District Gateway

Submitted by Ellen Sollod

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Client: City of Bellingham

Location: Bellingham, WA, United States

Completion date: -000

Artwork budget: $150,000

Project Team

Artist

Ellen Sollod

Sollod Studio llc

Interior Designer

Ida Ottesen

Nakano Asssociates

Overview

The Bellingham Arts District, home to the City’s important cultural institutions, is centrally located downtown. The plaza marks an important entry to the district. Its design and construction were the culmination of a lengthy public process. The plaza was formed by capturing existing street public right of way. Approximately 2000 square feet, it serves as a gathering place for festivals and special events. The artwork is prominently located and serves as an important landmark. Composed of stainless steel, dichroic glass, and LED lighting, the primary sculpture, the Sentinel, stands 22’ tall. The nearby “Archimedean solids” do double duty as seating.

Goals

The idea was to create a “place as art” rather than a place with art. Hence, all surfaces and elements, including sculpture, paving, leaning walls and planting beds were considered to be part of the overall design. The goal was for the art to be seamlessly integrated into the space, to achieve a sense of unity and to create a place where everyone feels welcome and where both formal and informal events occur.

Process

Working together, city staff, stakeholder groups, landscape architect and artist created a placemaking vision for the Arts District aimed at making great public spaces. The theme became “making places for people.” A lengthy public process in which the artist and landscape architect engaged the community resulted in a place that is loved and heavily used. The artist was a full member of the design team from the beginning and collaborated on every aspect of plaza design. She was individually responsible for designing the custom pavers and paving pattern as well as the sculptures.