Mountain to Sea - CODAworx

Mountain to Sea

Submitted by Robert Horner

Client: King County

Location: West Seattle, WA, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $200,000

Project Team


Robert Horner

Pi R Squared

Rammed Earth Builder

Bly Windstorm

Earthdwell ltd


The artwork at the Murray CSO is fundamentally rooted in the movement of water across the landscape of the Puget Sound Region. As the primary utility of the CSO facility is to temporarily divert water away from the wastewater treatment facility in order to prevent any negative ecological conditions of the Puget Sound, the conceptual focus of the artwork is highlight various zones water moves through on the progression from mountain to sea. This is executed through the use of rammed earth retaining wall, rock gardens, paving elements and wall inserts features. The materials selected for this artwork are natural, durable and of a sustainable nature. The artwork aims to encourage an awareness of water management and storage drawing a connection between the utility facility and the natural environment. The rammed earth walls will have a topographical relief that is similar to the surface of undulating water. This surface manipulation of the rammed earth walls will be condensed and tight at the highest point and broad and expansive at the lowest point further emphasizing the behavior of water within a given geological zone.


The artwork was completely integrated into the design of the Murray CSO storm-water management facility. Working with project architects and landscape architects I was able to utilize existing design features such as staircases, retaining wall and benches as primary artwork elements. The artwork gained construction credits for some design elements further enhancing the art budget. Utilizing CNC technologies formworks were digitally fabricated to be placed within formworks for concrete and rammed earth elements. The project has since won several AIA design awards for landscape architecture and architecture.


I was selected as the artist for the Murray CSO project through a commissioning agency in Seattle, WA. I was asked to present concepts to the design review committee and then to members of the Storm-water management team, as well as community leaders and project stake-holders. The design process extended over a 4 year period, with the installation taking several months to complete. With past experience designing and building rammed earth projects, I collaborated directly with the owner and operator of EarthDwell LTD, Bly Windstorm. Collectively Bly and myself mapped each element of the artwork, created color and texture maps for each wall and planned the sequence of construction across a steep and challenging site.