Viewland/Hoffman Electrical Substation
N. 105th St. and Fremont Ave. N.
Seattle City Light 1% for Art
A design team of artists Andrew Keating, Sherry Markovitz and Lewis "Buster" Simpson worked with structural and landscape architects and engineers to plan the overall concept and physical layout of the Viewland/Hoffman Substation. This groundbreaking collaboration marked the first major integrated public art project of its kind and established Seattle as an international leader in the public art field.
The design team's goal was to address resident concerns in the substation's design, humanizing the site with artistic elements. These visual components included 27 whirligigs by Emil and Veva Gehrke, purchased and installed by the design team. Made from discarded appliance parts, hub caps, hard hats, dust pans and washing machine parts, the whirligigs spin when the wind blows through the fenced-in compound. A chain link chair and footstool by Buster Simpson provide a view of the whirligigs from outside the enclosure. A protected semi-circular pathway allows visitors to view the wind sculptures from all sides. Andrew Keating's colorful porcelain enamel steel signage talks about the art and artists and provides information on how the substation functions. A concrete wall decorated with colorful lines and arcs runs the length of the site and is described by Keating as "a backdrop interacting visually and thematically with the equipment and the whirligigs." Inlaid stones uniformly punctuate the grass surrounding the station. The lighthearted artworks take an innovative approach toward a necessary element of the cityscape.