Washington Walls Set Sites In High Relief

The State of Washington is recognized as a leader for its aesthetic treatment of miles of retaining walls and decorative spans. That reputation is due

The State of Washington is recognized as a leader for its aesthetic treatment of miles of retaining walls and decorative spans. That reputation is due in no small part to the contribution of Vicki Scuri SiteWorks, an interdisciplinary design practice specializing in public art whose 50-plus urban design projects include highway walls and bridges, parking structures, playgrounds, and schools.

Since 1985, Vicki Scuri often has collaborated with architect Mark Spitzer Designs on large- and small-scale projects that feature dramatic concrete patterning. Prominent in her design repertoire is a tire-tread pattern covered by a patent that includes high surface articulation achieved by means of 3,000-psi concrete with a slump of 4±1 in., plus intricate formwork fitted with elastomeric liners. Here is a sampling of Vicki Scuri SiteWorks’ exacting and imaginative concrete patterns (copyrighted to the artist) that reflect each project’s unique setting.


West Galer Street at Elliott Way, Seattle (1999-2002)

Of eight art projects proposed to the City of Seattle for the bridge’s Public Art & Urban Design Master Plan, the DNA Wave Patterns articulating MSE walls comprise one of two that were implemented. Varying in height from two to 25 feet, the walls are constructed of 5- _ 10-ft. precast panels. Their nautical/genetic theme combining rope and tire-tread patterns references the major economic anchor of the site, biotechnology firm Immunex, and provides a marine backdrop to the waterfront pedestrian and bicycle path wrapping the bridge ramp.


Interstate 405 at 124th Street/Totem Lake Exit, Kirkland (1995-2000)

Funded by Sound Transit, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and Kirkland Û known as City of Trees Û the project incorporates 30,000 sq. ft. of poured-in-place concrete and precast mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) panels. The high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) walls range from five feet to 25 feet in height, creating a crescendo of geometry and pattern work inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s last manuscript, The Dispersion of Seeds.


Interstate 5 at S. 38th St., Tacoma (2006)

A series of sound and retaining walls established by WSDOT with the City of Tacoma along the Interstate 5 corridor features rope imagery, representing the locale’s working waterfront and port, as well as random board molding designs referencing local forests that were largely harvested to provide post-WWII housing timber. The work varies in height, ranging from eight feet to tiered, 45-ft. walls.


Aurora Ave. at 151st St. & 160th St., Shoreline (2006-2007)

Part of a regional park trail system tracing the historic Interurban Trail Trolley Line route from Seattle to Everett, the Shoreline Interurban Trail Bridges provide a safe crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. Their corresponding ramps celebrate the city’s civic identity with concrete patterning that evokes the seashore, vintage trolley lines, and abundant orchards.