BELLEVUE -- Intriguing public art works add an important dimension to the modernist new Bellevue City Hall. On Thursday, a Vancouver, B.C., artist literally gave the building a new bearing, installing a kind of giant compass needle on the southeast corner. The eye-popping installation will draw the attention of anyone driving in the area and gives visitors to City Hall's balcony constantly changing views.
Alan Storey, who has earned an international reputation for strikingly interactive public art, drew his inspiration for the Bellevue piece from the nautical devices that are an integral part of the region's maritime heritage.
"Compass" looks very much like the needle in an old compass, a 50-foot-long elongated steel diamond. There is a kind of disk in the middle that faces viewers standing on the balcony.
Storey is known for incorporating interactive elements into his works, and "Compass" responds to City Hall visitors' actions too. Whenever the front doors open, the viewfinder, a wide, carved pipe mounted to the guardrail, moves incrementally. People on the balcony can see eastern Bellevue and Mount Rainier beyond while seeing the semi-reflective disk, which reflects scenery behind them. The major components will also move in the wind.
"Compass" is one of four major artworks approved by City Council for City Hall. The first-floor concourse features a terrazzo floor with colored glass chips, semi-precioius stones, beads and shells. A large root sculpture will decorate provide a dramatic focus for the outdoor plaza and a work meant to evoke reed boats will be near the front entrance. Taken together, this suite of four original works takes the visitor on a poetic journey from the land, to the water’s edge, through the river, to views beyond, reflecting our community’s past, present and future.
All of these works, created by Northwest artists, will be part of the lasting cultural legacy of City Hall. Through Oct. 9, visitors also get to see sculptures that are part of the Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition.
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