Water Mover

Unbuilt lots, even sloped blackberry patches sitting on unstable soil, are fast disappearing in Seattle. Particularly in Fremont, where townhouses sprout like mushrooms, any real-estate resistance is appreciated. Sitting next to the Fremont Branch Library, A.B. Ernst Park was completed four years ago with a spiral ramp and stair maze leading down to the alley behind the old P.C.C. Designed by Bend, Oregon landscape architect J.T. Atkins, it seemed a perfect place to sit and read in the south-facing light, but—D’oh!—a guard rail was deemed necessary to keep kids and other visitors from toppling off the textured concrete seats and into the sage. Thus, Seattle sculptor Jenny Heishman was commissioned by the city and Fremont Neighborhood Council to build a fence that didn’t look like a fence. Water Mover is anything but. Its scalloped orange half-pipes are like an aquaduct to nowhere. The broken ring of solid yet irregularly situated water chutes playfully suggests some irrigation scheme where none is needed (the plants are all indigenous). Here the runoff is simply directed into a bucket, or onto the porous concrete and into the ground. Summer may be the best time to enjoy the park, but to better appreciate Heishman’s contribution, take your umbrella during a November downpour and see how the contraption works. BRIAN MILLER

Starts: Aug. 15. Daily, 2008

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