Stephen Glassman
Thornton Creek
2010

LOCATION
Fire Station 39

FUNDING SOURCE
Department of Finance and Administrative Services Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy 1% for Art funds


Glassman's Thornton Creek is a 28-foot-tall free-standing sculpture, located within the rain garden of Fire Station 39. The large assemblage is made of galvanized steel and is integrated visually and functionally with the building and rain garden. The artwork serves as a rainwater delivery system, moving runoff from the building's roof to an underground cistern. The sculpture includes two raised planting beds that feature and support native Northwest grasses. The sculpture creatively reveals the sustainable efforts of the building to harvest and use rainwater for some of the station's functions.

The Thornton Creek watershed had been nearly completely covered and piped away from its native habitat. There was a growing public sentiment to restore the creek and to claim it as a community identity. The public facility was planned to be a green building with a surrounding rain garden landscape. It was a perfect opportunity to create an integrated sculpture as a gesture to the future of the creek and the community of Lake City. Thus the sculpture parallels the ecological restoration processes already in play. The asphalt plane is stripped away, and native creek grasses are lifted toward the sunlight. Pipes, previously tunneling the creek underground, are pulled into the daylight and peeled open. The piece opens to the rain, catching it from the sky and from the roof—and sends the water cascading through its troughs and grasses, ultimately to be stored in an underground cistern.