UW News

August 20, 2010

UW, Sound Transit build “Great Wall of Us” on construction site

News and Information

Attention photographers and videographers: Installation of the “Great Wall of Us” will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23 on Montlake Boulevard near Husky Stadium.


The University and Sound Transit are creating an informal display of photos of people, called “The Great Wall of Us,” on the wall that surrounds the site next to Montlake Boulevard where a Sound Transit station is being constructed.

The idea came about when Sound Transit approached the University, offering to put something on the wall. Sound Transit’s purpose was to generate interest and excitement about the station to be built on the site.

“We decided we wanted to create something that would be a gift to the community,” said Tricia Thompson, UW associate vice president for marketing. “This is going to be with us for a long time [six years], so we didn’t want a big billboard.”

In the course of brainstorming, someone mentioned a construction site in New York where the construction company had taken photos of the people who walked by and put them up on the wall. And the idea of “The Great Wall of Us” was born.

“UW Station and the University Link project will be a great asset for the University and the region,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “The Great Wall of Us is another chance to build excitement around the project and keep this area active and interesting during construction.”

But how to get the photos? Rather than random shots of people walking by, the team decided to get willing people to pose by renting a photo booth and taking it to University events. The booth and photos were free, but people did have to agree that the photos could be used on the wall.

The photo booth made campus appearances at the spring football game and the HUB closing celebration. It was also at the launch of Husky Central downtown and at the Tukwila Sound Transit station where passengers were headed to a Mariner game. Most recently it was at the UW Medical Center.

People who go into the booth get their photo prints, and a UW team gets the digital images. It’s estimated that about 400 photos of varying sizes will fit on the wall. So far, the team has collected about 3,000.

The wall is built in 1-by-1 foot squares so that individual images can be changed over the life of the wall. The panels are 6 feet high and 4 feet wide and will be placed 2 feet off the ground to protect the imagery from splashing during the rainy season. In addition to images, the walls will have explanatory text, a transit station map and viewing windows so passersby can check out the progress of construction.

The material being used is aluminum. The graphics are then printed on vinyl, coated with anti-graffiti layer and applied to the aluminum.