“Murmuration”. Pacific Place Mall, Seattle, WA, 2020.

Submitted by Susan Zoccola

0

Client: Madison Marquette Partnership

Location: Seattle, WA, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Artist

Susan Zoccola

Architect

Jeroen Teeuw

Gensler

Client

Madison Marquette Partnership

Overview

“Murmuration” is a 4-Story suspended sculpture for commercial mall atrium space which was inspired by the movements and patterns of
flocks of birds in flight. “Murmuration” was commissioned by Madison Marquette Partnership as part of their major renovation of Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle, which was designed by Gensler. The sculpture is made of acrylic spheres, aluminum leaf, stainless steel rod, stainless steel cable. It is 65′ x 30′ x 10’. The goal of the project was to activate the center atrium space with a suspended sculpture. The site for the artwork was to be over a very large hole in the first floor (street level) entrance plaza, which opened up the basement parking level entry with an oculus to the atrium space above. The shape of Murmuration derived formally from this site design and conceptually with the desire of the design team to bring ‘nature’ into this urban space, and Zoccola’s mind went to raindrops and birds in flight – very Northwest themes. Murmuration was designed to be enjoyed from every part of the busy city-block sized mall. Visitors can get close up (5+ feet) on the escalators, and the view of the piece changes from every view point and time of day.

Goals

The goal of the project was to activate the center atrium space with a suspended sculpture. The site for the artwork was to be over a very large hole in the first floor (street level) entrance plaza, which opened up the basement parking level entry with an oculus to the atrium space above. The shape of Murmuration derived formally from this site design and conceptually with the desire of the design team to bring ‘nature’ into this urban space, and Zoccola’s mind went to raindrops and birds in flight – very Northwest themes. Murmuration was designed to be enjoyed from every part of the busy city-block sized mall. Visitors can get close up (5+ feet) on the escalators, and the view of the piece changes from every view point and time of day.

Process

Proposal and Concept Development:
Once the proposal was selected, we began to do full scale mock-ups in the studio to refine materials and methods. After making a variety of samples using different materials, the team selected the half aluminum leaf/half clear option. Hand-metal leafing the acrylic spheres allowed for interesting variations in the overall artwork from different views. The clear acrylic appears to be glass, but is more durable and safe. The overall shape of the artwork was further developed via computer modeling.

Design of armature and engineering:
After we learned that the steel trusses across the skylight ceiling could not be used because they were part of a window cleaning apparatus, we had to design an armature to support the sculpture. We came up with this cantilevered design to capitalize on the steel column and beam exposure during the remodel – and so were able to weld sleeved plates onto them to later receive the sculpture. The shape of the armature echoes the shape of hole in floor, complementing the overall design. We worked with engineers to analyze the armature and sculpture designs. We also worked closely with Bayley Construction – the general contractors for the mall remodel - with scheduling and phasing.