Queen Anne 2020 Farmers Market

2020 Farmers Market sign

Thursday, May 28, the Queen Anne Farmers Market opened its 2020 season, operating for the first time under Corona virus social constraints.

With help from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Matt Kelly, Director of the Market worked out a plan that would allow shoppers and farmers to all have a safe experience. This produced an L-shaped market plan, incorporating one block of West Crockett Street and a portion of adjoining 1st Avenue West, next to McClure Middle School.

In addition, all of the vendor booths were arrayed along just one side of each street, and were separated from each other by 10′ of open space. Customer flow ran one-way through the market, starting near the entrance to the Queen Anne Pool and working its way north and then east to the exit, adjacent to Queen Anne Avenue.

The market staff metered entrance to the shopping zone to control the total number of shoppers in the area at any one time. This required a waiting line, with appropriate social distancing.

waiting line

Chalk X’s on the sidewalk marked the required 6′ spacing.

Signs adjacent to the waiting line explained the rules

Other signs outlined the range of vendor participation.

A staff attendant talked by phone with another person at the exit to determine when and how many people to let in.

This person stood at the junction of the regular waiting line and the line for people who had placed preorders for pickup.

Good graphics in the shopping zone made things easy to understand.

And the openness of the space (in contrast to typical prior years) made it easy to see each vendor and the variety of produce.

Many shoppers wore masks, and some also wore gloves. For those without gloves, hand sanitizer was provided near both the entrance and exit.

At each vendor booth, social distancing for people waiting their turn had been marked out on the pavement, in this case where local Council-member Andrew Lewis in the blue jacket is illustrating how to wait one’s turn to buy flowers. He rang the bell to help open the market.

It appears in the photo above, that the booth is blocking the crosswalk; but crosswalk traffic had been rerouted to an adjacent corner. In addition, circulation for general pedestrian traffic had been clearly maintained on sidewalks around the perimeter of the market (below at McClure school).

For the first market day in this new format, a reasonable number and variety of vendors were present; but the layout did produce a somewhat less vibrant than normal atmosphere.

That will likely change as the market kicks into gear in June and July and more people become aware of how easy it is to shop. One major difference that could immediately be felt was that the familiar food trucks and community dining table were not in place. It’s possible that some of them will return in August; but Matt Kelly says that will need to be worked out with SDOT as social distancing requirements evolve over the summer.

Market staff made sure that shoppers’ questions were answered and also monitored the social distancing as required.

Other staff controlled the exit point to Queen Anne Avenue and the flow of customers, and then let the entry point staff know to let more people in.

It was overall a calm, safe and positive first day opening. It will be interesting to see how things develop as summer really kicks into gear and we move into phases 2 and 3 of the civic reopening.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

On a recent trip we ventured across town to take in the latest incarnation of SAM, the Seattle Art Museum, in its original, Volunteer Park Home.

SAAM Main Entrance

The Seattle Asian Art Museum is located inside Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the SAAM occupies the 1933 Art Deco building (designed by Carl F. Gould of the architectural firm Bebb and Gould and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) which was originally home to the Seattle Art Museum’s main collection.

The Seattle Art Museum was founded in 1933 by Richard E. Fuller, a collector of Asian art. Local history sources describe Dr. Fuller’s evolution: “A man who sought to use his skills and resources to serve his community, Dr. Richard E. Fuller (1897–1976) acted as Director of the Seattle Art Museum from its founding in 1933 until 1973. His passion for Asian art, at a time when its importance was not yet fully acknowledged in this country, was ignited in childhood by his mother’s “cabinet of curiosities,” full of the treasures she collected in her own youthful travels in Asia. Together with his mother, Mrs. Eugene (Margaret Elizabeth MacTavish) Fuller, Dr. Fuller built for Seattle one of the premier collections of Asian art in the United States”.

Dr. Fuller and his mother, Mrs. Margaret E. MacTavish Fuller at the main entrance

In recent decades, public appreciation and understanding of Asian art has increased greatly. On the occasion of the museum’s 80th anniversary this year, 2020, the exhibition, A Fuller View of China, Japan, and Korea is both a tribute and a celebration of Dr. Fuller’s legacy and special recognition of SAM’s sustained efforts in collecting and researching Asian art. It was this exhibit that we went to see and experience.

The museum occupies a dramatic site in Volunteer Park at the top of Capitol Hill.

View of downtown Seattle and Puget Sound from above Volunteer Park (courtesy of LMN Architects)

A walk around the exterior reveals the ways in which the formal Art Deco building has been expanded to serve its more contemporary mission.

SAAM Main Entrance

Formal and decorative, the original museum presents both a simple and complex expression towards its site. The bulk of the building, clad in sandstone, stands as a fortress in the lush wooded Volunteer Park site; but the entrance clearly signals that something rich and complex can be found on the inside. At the same time, though, a pair of camels poke a bit of whimsy into all of this seriousness.

SAAM Camel

From the rear of the museum, which projects out into a more landscaped setting, the more modern and contemporary expression of the building becomes clear.

SAAM Park side

Whereas the original museum provided an almost exclusively interior experience, the latest incarnation reaches out and draws light in – and this approach also reflects the way in which the collection is experienced. The museum adopted the idea of showing its artworks as a series of thematic groupings rather than historic periods; and Seattle architects, LMN, carried this idea into the design of the addition to the building. Below, for example, is the way in which the new glass box above looks from the inside, drawing some of the park visually into the display areas and allowing the light quality to change all day long.

SAAM looking to the park

This drama presents its own display challenges of course, in that the constantly changing natural light qualities may, or may not, effectively show off the art.

SAAM – Camel and 3 vases

I personally really enjoyed the interplay between these forms, their decorative surfaces and the complex tree forms in the background; but I can understand that others might find all of that texture distracting. The benefit of the space, though, is that it’s open to experiment in finding various ways for the artworks to tell their stories.

But to begin again at the beginning, the decorative doors bring you in.

Momentarily, the grand scale of the entrance gives way to the smaller scale activities of ticketing and gift shop in a space that seems too small to be a museum introduction.

SAAM Entrance Lobby

As originally configured, in the 1930’s, this small lobby needed only to provide space for circulation, with ticketing and a coat room off to the side. In today’s museum world, the many ‘public’ needs have to compete for space.

In a somewhat abrupt but very dramatic way the lobby gives way, up a short flight of stairs, to the dramatic center courtyard and its electronic sky art.

“Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn: Gather” – looking back toward the entrance lobby.

The severe formal quality of the space has been here from the beginning so the somewhat severe electronic sky art fits right in. On either side, formal doorways and gates give access to the interior gallery spaces to each side.

The gates, painted black act almost as a language against the sandstone.

At the far end of the space from the lobby, a small pool and sculpture offer some focus and a welcome to the brightly day-lighted circulation spaces beyond.

Up close, the small scale draws you in; but I think that this particular piece struggles to “hold its own” against the drama of the large court.

Leaving the courtyard and moving along the new glass hallway leads to the major, new, stunning contemporary gallery and its current show, BE / LONGING, dominated by a piece called “SomeOne” by Do Ho Suh, a Korean-born artist.

SomeOne by Do Ho Suh

He describes the work as, “an assignment at the Rhode Island School of Design – to express identity through clothing – made him think about ‘my identity as a Korean in the United States’.” SAAM Notes – I thought the number of overlaying images and symbols of this piece, including its enigmatic name, really drew to enjoy it at multiple scales.

SomeOne – rear view

“Recalling his two-year mandatory service in the Korean military, Suh built a garment out of thousands of dog tags, soldiers’ IDs that reduce individual lives to a handful of letters and numbers. The sculpture, taking the shape of an Asian armor, embodies a recurring theme for Suh: the relationship of the individual to the larger society.” SAAM Notes

SomeOne – dogtag detail

The overall theme of this exhibit was explained nearby:

The variety of work in this gallery was impressive. Here are a few examples.

“Yuka” from the My Grandmothers series

Miwa Yanagi’s staged photographs offer a collision of East and West, present and future. for this series, the artist interviewed Japanese girls aged fourteen to twenty and asked them to imagine themselves in fifty years’ time. This photograph of a spirited couple speeding across the Golden Gate Bridge was based on the vision of a girl named Yuka, who saw herself as a carefree “grandma” living “somewhere far, far away” with her playboy lover. SAAM notes – I really liked the way this piece expressed a desire with which I have no experience.

Villagers – stoneware – Akio Takamori

Growing up in postwar Japan, Akio Takamori was exposed to a wide range of people through his father’s medical clinic, which was located near a red-light district. Years later, as a mature artist working in Seattle, Takamori recalled his childhood experiences by creating communities of individuals with carefully crafted identities, such as this group of villagers. SAAM Notes – I liked the folk quality of this work; but in this gallery full of big, provocative pieces it felt a bit overwhelmed and hard to get close to.

Villagers – stoneware – Akio Takamori – detail
Family Tree – Zhang Huan

When he lived in New York City from 1998 to 2006, the Chinese artist Zhang Huan staged many provocative performances. In one, documented in these nine photographs, his face was progressively inscribed with words from ancient Chinese divination, which predicts the future based on one’s facial features. The text gradually obscures Zhang’s features until the words are lost and his face is completely covered with black ink. Instead of revealing his fate, the words conceal his identity . . .SAAM Notes – It would be interesting to hear how someone of Chinese culture would interpret this.

Bewitched – Arctic – Jung Yeondoo

Who I am is not always who I want to be. A young girl working at Baskin Robbins in Seoul dreams of going to the Arctic. The artist helped her realize her dream in the photographs. He photographed her twice; once in her daily job at the ice cream shop, wearing a pink apron and sweeping the floor, and again transported to an Arctic-like snowy place, dressed in a fur coat and fur pants. SAAM Notes

Bewitched – Baskin Robbins – Jung Yeondoo
Tooba – Shirin Neshat

In this two-channel video installation, Shirin Neshat stages a symbolic tale of tension and transcendence set in a world blending memory and imagination. She explores her identity as Iranian, as female, and as emigree. Inspired by the novel Women without Men by Iranian writer Shahrnoush Parsipour, Tooba (meaning “tree of paradise”) revolves around a feminine tree described in the Qur’an. Especially for Sufis, this tree symbolizes peace, nourishment, and hope. SAAM Notes.

It’s difficult to convey in one photo, the eerie quality of this portrayal of people moving through the desert to a tree surrounded by a wall with no sound or music and shown on two opposing screens at the same time, but intentionally not in sync. Experiential !

Colored Vases – Ai Weiwei

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is know for provocative art that challenges the status quo. In this work, one from his iconoclastic oeuvre, he gathered a group of supposedly ancient earthenware vases and coated them with modern industrial paint. Covered with new paint, what is underneath – like history itself – is “no longer visible, but is still there.” SAAM Notes. – Hard to say if this was more provocative or spoofing, compared to other work of his that I’ve seen.

I really like the presence of this large gallery as a key part of the museum, and the way, with this inaugural exhibition, the museum has signaled its intention to use it to convey thematic ideas from Asian artists. I don’t know if future shows will be all contemporary like this one or not; but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is to explore ideas about Asian art and may very well go off in a variety of directions – something I would look forward to.

In the meantime, we also wandered through some of the older galleries and looked at the ways in which many of their works had been gathered into thematic groupings. A few of these will give you the idea.

Four Deities

These were four of a larger group of Buddhas of different cultures. It was not possible to tell if they had originally been part of full statues, though it appears that way. It’s remarkable how distinctive they are and yet at the same time they all convey a similar expression.

SAAM has a number of wonderful screens in its collection.

Kinkishoga (The Four Accomplishments) – Kano Takanobu

This one is called Kinkishoga – the four accomplishments being, playing the zither (kin) and the game go (ki), practicing calligraphy (sho) and appreciating painting (ga), seen to be the activities of a cultivated Chinese scholar-gentleman. After having been appropriated in Japan, this subject was popular for door panels and folding screens during the 15th and 16th centuries. It saw some variations, such as in the rightmost panel here, where a Daoist immortal story was added – SAAM Notes

I looked at each panel individually.

Calligraphy Art
playing go
Playing the Zither
Daoist Immortal Story

Pretty fascinating to see each of these activities up close and so beautifully rendered. Of course, they represent key aspects of life for cultured gentleMEN and do not pretend to present what life was like for people in general.

Rakuchu rakugai zu (Scenes in and around the Capital) – Edo period (1603-1868)

In this pair of screens, seasonal outings and festivals in the old capital, Kyoto, are depicted at famous landmarks or scenic spots.

Rakuchu rakugai zu (Scenes in and around the Capital) – Edo period (1603-1868)

In the center of this (righthand) screen, the city’s most important festival, Gion Matsuri, is shown. It started as an event to appease the god of good health and end a plague in the 9th century. Today, thousands of people participate in this annual festival to pray for good health. SAAM Notes

Given the ferocious quality of our current coronavirus, we may need an annual festival ourselves – or perhaps a thousand-armed bodhisattva to intercede for us.

Thousand-armed, eleven-headed Guanyin – China, Ming dynasty (1368-1644)

Guanyin, or “one who hears the prayers of the world,” is the embodiment of compassion. He is the most popular of the many celestial bodhisattvas, or compassionate guides, of Buddhism. With multiple arms and heads, this work signifies Guanyin’s infinite powers and immeasurable reach. The teachings and ritual formulas of esoteric or tantric branches of Buddhism were secret; they held hidden meanings that could be unlocked only with initiation and a teacher’s guidance. Yet theses traditions spread widely from India to Tibet, Mongolia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the East Asian countries of China, Korea, and Japan. SAAM Notes

And for those of you who want to check on the number of arms, here’s a close-up to get you started.

Thousand-armed, eleven-headed Guanyin – China, Ming dynasty (1368-1644) – detail

I didn’t see a ‘collection’ of clothing per se, but there were definitely a few exquisite pieces; and I know that the museum has a striking kimono collection.

Imperial Robe – 18th to early 19th century – China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

As with many pieces in the museum’s collection, this one was donated, by Henry and Mary Ann James, on the 75th Anniversary of the museum.

And, in the spirit of some of the earlier part of Dr. Fuller’s collection, here’s a terra cotta gentleman wishing you a good day and hoping you come for another visit.

Or, visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum on line at: http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/

WSU Junction 270 – 1

During the architectural doldrums of the early 1990’s, when I was between jobs, I was offered the opportunity to fill a one-year opening on the Architectural Faculty at Washington State University by the Dean, Rafi Samizay. He asked me to teach Architectural Programming and 5th year design in the Fall; and in the Spring, 5th year Thesis Design. At that time, Rafi said that a second course opening existed in the Spring if I wanted to propose something that would be of interest to me.

In the ten years or so leading up to this point I had had my first involvements with Design Team Collaboration, a process of involving multiple disciplines, including artists, in developing public designs as a group and involving the community in the process as well. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and Stations design was an intense collaboration between architects and artists that began my interest in the idea of balancing Art, Infrastructure, and Environment as the basis of an approach to large civic projects. After that I participated in a successful competition design with two artists and a landscape architect for a new King Street Gardens Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Subsequently, I worked as a consultant to an artist on a number of environment-related projects.

Based on this background, I proposed to Rafi that I teach A Collaboration Studio for a semester, assuming that I could get a number of students from different disciplines interested in trying it out. I developed a small promotional poster and put it up in the schools of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Art, to see if there was interest.

The poster used a drawing from King Street Gardens Park to give a sense that this would be a course that explored a variety of forms and ideas, not just Architecture. I also contacted the faculties of the three disciplines to explore their interest in having their students work on a full-semester, cross-discipline design.

The Interest

There was immediate student interest; but the faculties were reluctant. In an academic setting it takes a lot of time and discussion to establish a program, the courses that will provide the skills to complete the program, and the whole credit structure that will work towards graduation. I was essentially asking for an exception to the rules on relatively short notice. For a time, I thought I might have to abandon the idea because of its administrative complexities. Then, one afternoon, three interested landscape architecture students paid me a visit in my office and said, essentially, “You’re not giving up!”

After that, there was no turning back. I sorted out the administrative issues; and Rafi arranged for a small graduate studio space we could use as a home base. We were off and running with eight students: three architects, three landscape architects and two artists.

In the beginning, since none of us had done this kind of work in a classroom setting, I had everyone introduce themselves and talk about their work and ideas. One of the major challenges of collaborative work is developing the trust and understanding necessary to successfully share the creative process. David was a sculptor; Curtis was one of my 5th year architecture students; John was an architecture student; Mary and Angie were Landscape students; Monique was an art student; Kurtis, a landscape student; and Harley a 4th year architecture student. They had all experienced the typical design format in which each student does his/hers own work, and has the work judged against a program but also – inevitably – against each other’s. It was import for me to convey that in this class we would all be contributing our skills to a shared goal.

I introduced myself as a part of the collaboration. My experience to that point had been that collaboration is an inclusive process in which everyone shares their skills and also works to see that everyone else’s goals are met. That meant that I was also part of the collaboration, even though I was also managing the class process.

Mark Spitzer, Interim Associate Professor of Architecture, WSU

My previous work had also taught me that this is a learning-by-doing endeavor. I resolved that the best way to teach it would be to have us all design the class itself, then the scope and nature of the gateway project, then the gateway project. That way, they would experience the “designing of the rules” that occurs in genuine collaborations and reflects the political realities of human cooperation and conflict.

The Project and the Challenge

One of the aspects of our culture in which I am particularly interested is the way in which the infrastructure we design and build (roads, bridges, parks, campuses, public buildings, etc) affects and is affected by the environment which we all share. Immediately in front of the main entrance to the Washington State University campus, the state was, at that very moment, widening and rebuilding highway 270 and the junction to the campus entrance,

Photo of Junction 270 site looking from the direction of downtown Pullman. In this photo one half of the old bridge has been removed and construction has started on the new bridge foundations.

and the bridge that carries it over the Palouse River and railroad (below). Since the project affected the entrance to the campus (left above), an adjacent strip of highway-related strip retail (right above), wetland and river landscape, and sites for potential housing, I decided to focus that collection of elements as a gateway to both the campus and the community, and include all of them in the design program.

Original route 270 bridge over the railroad and Palouse River (hidden on the left) looking toward town.

This approach had some distinct advantages for the class. The needs (student housing, better retail, effective use of the hillside, some environmental sensibility, a more gracious campus entrance, a some level of harmony between the campus and city) were all clear and compelling. The site was a 5 minute walk from our design studio. The elements of the program were familiar. And the fact that the site was currently being torn up made it obvious that large-scale change was clearly do-able.

Strip Retail along route 270 opposite the main entrance to the WSU campus.

The Collaboration Process

Collaboration is a learning-by-doing endeavor. I resolved that the best way to teach it would be to have the students design the class itself, then the scope and nature of the gateway project, then the gateway project. That way, they would experience the “designing of the rules” that occurs in genuine collaborations and reflects the political realities of human cooperation and conflict.

Everyone counts in a collaboration, and conversely, everyone makes his or her skills available to the group. (Willing is the magic word – willing to share one’s skills, willing to participate, willing to listen to others). In our class, I chose this to mean that I was a part of the collaboration along with the students. I brought one set of skills and experiences; they each brought theirs. Together we had a Studio of Skills with which to approach the gateway design and manage the process as well.

Since this approach was new to the students, they had some pretty clear reactions, especially since much of the work was done in informal, small-group conversations.

Junction 270 team holds in informal outdoor session

Some of their comments convey a sense of the newness of the process:

“In architecture you assume that everyone else works in the same way as architects do. What I learned is that some of the artists worked better in three dimensions . . .”

“It was an unusual feeling having the professor working along side the students on designing the project.”

“It was difficult to get used to someone else drawing on your drawings and trying out their ideas on yours.”

In the case of a project like Junction 270, collaboration is about community-based design as well, meaning that all the issues related to the campus Gateway area create the definition of the project and determine the people in the community who need to be involved. As a result, during the semester, we interviewed or heard presentations from staff of the University, the City of Pullman, the Pullman Civic Trust, the Department of Transportation, and the local retail community. I said to the students that they should take these various points of view as equally legitimate and worthy of consideration as we proceeded through the project. I was impressed with how forth-coming our various presenters were.

The dynamic of a collaborative project reflects struggles which change brings to a community. It also reflects the belief that these issues will be better resolved if everyone affected is willing to make the struggle public. A public setting permits many points of view to be presented, in a facilitated environment, for everyone’s understanding. During the development of the project, with the help of the Pullman Civic Trust, the students and I ran a community workshop that involved a wide range of Pullman and University participants.

Where to start? – Research the Situation

The rolling hills of the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho, a result of dramatic lava flows overlain with rich topsoil, strike you immediately in contrast to the rest of the state.

Palouse landscape in the Fall, with partially burned-off fields.
Palouse landscape intersected by wooded stream-bed.

Our Junction 270 project would not directly include these agricultural elements; but many of them would be visible from the site, and the site itself still carried similar characteristics.

Route 270 approach to WSU campus from the East

The WSU campus sits on a hill (right above) that slopes down to the Palouse River. Route 270 cuts across the brow of the hill, staying high enough to be out of the flood plain and to clear the river and railroad below. It also leaves just enough space for a strip of small-scale retail buildings, opposite the entrance roadway to the WSU campus (below left).

At the time of our Junction 270 project, a portion of WSU’s hill was being carved away (above right) to provide space to widen the road and build extra lanes to handle traffic to and from the campus entrance.

The retail stores backed up to an area that sloped down to the small railroad freight line and river flood plane. Our site consisted of the existing retail area plus the grassy slope (center below), flanked on each side by existing 3-story housing projects. This was the part of the site that sat directly across the highway from the main campus entrance.

Landscape Materials

Beneath all that rolling farmland lies miles of basalt and granite. In places, where wind and/or water have worn away the topsoil, this stone asserts itself into the landscape. The Landscape students in particular wanted this stone to play a strong role in the design.

For plant materials we assumed that all new specimens would be required; so we spent some time at local nurseries, exploring what was possible.

And we did also have one odd but strong clump of existing willow trees on the site.

We couldn’t believe that these trees had survived the history of development in the area, primarily because the original highway had created an embankment right up against them. What we discovered was that there was a storm water drain and pipe running through the center of the clump; and we deduced that it had been put in when the entrance road to the campus was built in a swale in the land that also contained a small creek. The road filled the swale; and the creek went into the pipe.

Housing and Retail Research

In the beginning of the project, we determined that student housing would play a major role in the design. The WSU campus at that time was suffering from a lack of decent housing; and the housing available nearby was not always configured for student living. We also resolved that we would provide space in the project for enough retail to absorb all of the facilities currently on the site. Finally, even though we hadn’t yet visualized it, we knew that there should be some open gathering space woven through the site.

No one felt that there were good models for housing / retail combinations in Pullman at that time. Both student housing and town apartments were developed without including retail; and retail was either downtown or in nearby malls. To get some good models we relied on examples from Seattle.

Pike Market Housing with street level retail – Seattle

Having a larger market place to survey also gave us a chance to look at a wider range of housing forms and materials.

Housing above retail – Belltown – Seattle

Seattle also has a variety of examples of hillside construction.

Hillside housing – Seattle

We knew that there would inevitably be some form of hillclimbs for access.

Pike Market Hillclimb – Seattle

The circulation paths would logically reach some form of open space.

Central Plaza – Carillon Point – Kirkland, WA

We knew we wanted the scale of the retail to be inviting, with shelter and outdoor seating.

Finally, we knew that we would have to make transitions into the landscaping, especially where the willow grove framed the project on the south end.

With all of these inspirations in front of us, we started the design process – Junction 270 – 2.