January 31, 2012
At Ethnic Cultural Center building site, fencing tells a story
Once, most big construction sites were surrounded by cheap plywood boards or rickety chain-link fences, both with lots of signs saying KEEP OUT. But take a look next time you pass a site. Many sites are tidier, and often, the fencing is a whole lot more imaginative.
Like at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Lincoln Way, where the new, three-story, 25,000-square-foot Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center is going up.
A series of 6-by-12 panels screen the site, affording safety for people passing by and neatening the site while also telling whats going on, giving navigation instructions and celebrating the history and traditions of the center. The panels are part of the Construction Graphics Program, which is based in the Office of Planning & Budgeting.
Rebecca Barnes, the universitys architect, came up with the idea for the overall program, and Kristine Kenney, the universitys landscape architect, led the design work.
“Theres so much activity on campus that to keep everyone safe, were constantly redirecting people and vehicles,” Kenney said. She added that people want to know whats going on, so the panels both explain and make the site more interesting.
Kenneys group included faculty, staff and students who worked with Kristine Matthews, an assistant professor of visual communication design who also runs Studio Matthews, a Seattle-based graphic design firm.
“The concept was ‘Create History’,” Matthews said. “We wanted to look both forward and back, so there is a nod to the history of each site and its relevance to UW, but also a look forward.”
The panels include both generic and customizable options. Along with the purple “W,” for example, the ECC graphics echo the groups – blacks, Chicanos, Asians, Native Americans – depicted in four murals in the original 1971 building. By the way, the murals have been preserved, and will be mounted in the new building.
The ECC panels, which cost $180-$220 apiece and were mounted in early December, are the first test of the program. They will be followed by panels at construction sites for Mercer Court Apartments, the student housing just below the northeast end of University Bridge; South Lake Union phase 3.1, the new UW medical research complex; and the Rainier Vista/Montlake Triangle Project, which will remake the area and include a Sound Transit station.