Client: Washington State University, Spokane

Location: Spokane, WA, United States

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $176,000

Project Team


Kana Tanaka

Kana Tanaka Art, Inc.

Art in Public Places Program Manager

Mike Sweney

ArtsWA | Washington State Arts Commission


Ed Breen


Industry Resource

Ceilings Plus

Industry Resource

Griplock Systems


Inspired by the Spokane River and the building’s architecture, Cascade is comprised of thousands of hand-formed glass water drops that flow through the entire north side of the Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences Building in Washington State University, Spokane.

Glass and stainless steel wire
17’ x 8’ x 130’
Public Art commissioned by Washington State Arts Commission

Spanning over 130 feet from the 1st to the 4th floor, three types of splashes of water were represented with suspended clear glass in different textures. Using colorful dichroic glass, the artist added autumn falling leaves, spring flower petals and a suggestion of native fish as accents that could be found from the seasonal journey of water in the Spokane River.


The architectural design of the new building with its series of continuous stairways strongly evoked an illusion of the Spokane River and its cascading waterfalls.

By adding glass art elements in the space above, Artist sought to evoke the feeling of being in the river or under the cascade and capture the energy created by the river.


Collaboration involved determining how the connection points between the artwork and the ceiling could be seamless as well as workable with all the infrastructures hidden behind the ceiling.

In order to achieve the natural and continuous flow of the extended length of the artwork, the artist worked with the architect first to determine and adjust the ceiling panel design and artwork location accordingly.

Next with the ceiling panel manufacturer, cable company and structural engineer to determine and fabricate the reinforcement system above the ceiling grid system, as well as for each of the small parts used to support over 2,000 handmade large glass beads.

Lastly, the artist worked closely with the ceiling installer for site adjustments, collaboratively achieved the complicated installation for the cleanest and seamless result.