Published March 31 2023
Years in the making, the reimagined Bellevue City Hall Plaza, which neighbors the future East Link light rail Bellevue Downtown Station, is now open to the public.
To mark this milestone and Bellevue’s 70th anniversary of incorporation, the city reopened the plaza on Friday, March 31, and hosted a ribbon-breaking ceremony attended by community stakeholders. The event also highlighted the plaza’s public art pieces.
In June 2017, construction began on the new plaza with the goal of making it a welcoming public space along the Grand Connection. The plaza also helps to establish the city’s cultural legacy with major works by Pacific Northwest artist Dan Corson and statues gifted by sister city Hualien, Taiwan.
Through its partnership with Sound Transit, with the light rail station adjacent to the plaza, Bellevue has created a direct connection between downtown and East Link, a key component of the city’s multimodal transportation evolution. The plaza is expected to be a gateway for thousands of commuters once the station opens for service sometime between spring 2024 and spring 2025.
“Today we took a significant step in realizing our ambitious vision for mobility on the Eastside and the region,” said Mayor Lynne Robinson. “The City Hall Plaza and the Bellevue Downtown Station will allow residents, workers and visitors to hop on light rail and connect to the regional transportation system and reach a variety of destinations where people live, work and play.
“As Bellevue’s longtime partner when it comes to realizing the city’s vision for a sustainable community, Sound Transit is honored to be part of the Bellevue family and this celebration,” said Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. “I can’t think of a better symbol of our partnership than this plaza, which combines the front doorsteps to both Bellevue’s City Hall and Sound Transit’s Bellevue Downtown Station, which will be our busiest on the Eastside.”
Artworks on display at the plaza include The Root by Corson, a bronze casting of 13 different western red cedar root systems. The project was cast in over 250 pieces and weighs over 10,500 pounds. The network of roots is a metaphor for the infrastructure systems provided by the city, such as water and transportation.
The city’s relationship with Hualien dates back to 1984 after a delegation of Bellevue residents of Taiwanese descent, city councilmembers and the Bellevue Sister Cities Association visited and formed an affiliation. The first marble guardian lion was gifted by Hualien in 1987. In 2013, a delegation from Hualien gifted the matching guardian lion to complete the pair and officially installed and “awakened” them in a dedication ceremony.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York City, Hualien gifted Bellevue the Guan Yin marble statue. Guan Yin is a bodhisattva associated with mercy and compassion, and is commonly known in the west as a goddess of mercy.
“Through careful selection of artworks, the plaza also reflects the history, culture and people of Bellevue,” Mayor Robinson noted. “We encourage the community to visit and enjoy this community-centered space.”