Client: Wright Runstad & Company
Location: Bellevue, WA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $150,000
full partner in design, fabrication and installation
collaboration on concept and design
Wright Runstad & Company (retired)
Flowered bronze ‘fabric’ flows down an 11’ column crowned with a spherical sun sculpture. 200 flowers from the bronze ‘fabric’ continue onto the pavement and meander across a 200 foot long park plaza at the Spring District in Bellevue, Washington. The installation was inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s early Renaissance masterwork titled “Primavera” or “Allegory of Spring”, which depicts Flora, the goddess of spring, scattering hundreds of spring-blooming flowers in a meadow beneath the feet of the figures in the painting. We imagine that a magical scarf matching Flora’s blossom-studded gown has wound itself around a column supporting the sun at the moment of the vernal equinox, and generated the 200 bronze flowers that flow down from the fabric and are scattered across the park plaza. The overall dimensions of the tall sculpture are 13’ x 3’ x 2.5’, with the sun supported by a 10” diameter copper-nickel pipe that has been textured and stained. The 200 flowers embedded in the plaza range from just a few inches across to 8 inches in diameter. The bronze ‘fabric’ or ‘scarf’ and the sun sculpture on top are unique cast bronze, as are all of the flowers. The ‘scarf’ is tinted spring green using a stain especially formulated for outdoor use.
A new light rail station is set to open just across the street from Primavera in mid 2023. Primavera will be a sentry at the edge of the development, We set out to engage a very large area in a way that would form a ‘path’ of flowers from the tall sculpture at the north end of the park, 200 feet along to the other end of the park, where the program for the space changes from a park plaza to a market plaza, and connects to restaurants and retail. This 36 acre development, which includes an educational facility, apartment buildings and office buildings along with retail and restaurants, is serving students, residents, office workers and visitors. We endeavored to create enough variety in the sculptural elements to give viewers something new to notice on every passage through the park. The 200 flowers depict dozens of different spring-blooming flowers, including rose, iris, trillium, peony, tulip, allium, daffodil, hellebore, pansy, clematis, anemone, oxalis, camellia, primrose, and many more. Children are especially delighted by sculptures beneath their feet.
We were commissioned for this project by the co-developers of The Spring District, Wright Runstad & Company. Executive vice president Cindy Edens worked with us and made significant contributions to the concept. Wright Runstad contributed the engineering and directed their general contractor, Foushee and Associates to pour the foundation and assist us with the placement of the 200 EPS foam block outs that we had created to enable our installation of the bronze flowers in the pavement. Foushee also provided the crane that lifted the sculpture onto the foundation. All of the components of the sculpture were cast and fabricated by us in our studio/metal shop/sand casting foundry.
The history of the land upon which The Spring District is being developed echoes a dark period in America. There was a thriving agricultural community of both native and foreign born Japanese people, with homes, schools, churches, shops and services. Their annual Strawberry Festival drew people from all over the state. But during World War II the residents were torn from their homes and communities and interned in faraway camps. White neighbors made certain that there was nothing left to return to after the war, stealing possessions, burning down structures, and fouling wells. It’s a history that the city would like to forget, or ignore, and we were warned not to focus on it in the design of our project. As a gesture of recognition to the ghosts and descendants of the original community we included images of four Japanese family crests of cherry blossoms on the reverse side of the bronze fabric scarf, and also in the pavement. All of the 200 flowers in the ground plane had anchors welded to their backs, and were grouted into cavities in the concrete slab created by using EPS foam block outs that were anchored in place before the slab was poured.