Seattle: Olympic Sculpture Park

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One of the most pivotal moments in my personal life and working career was when a friend in undergrad told me about a class in a major called “Design of the Environment” at UPenn. That first class- in what ended up being my major and kick started my lifelong love of architecture- was taught by Marion Weiss of Weiss/Manfredi Architects. I was fortunate enough to intern for her and was published along with their office for the Smith College project. Getting the opportunity to learn from Marion shaped the rest of my life- it helped me form an idea of what I was capable of.

For as important of a part as interning for Weiss/ Manfredi was to me, I was never able to visit one of their built projects. This year has been a critical juncture for me. And just by chance having the opportunity to finally see one of Marion’s buildings was one of many events culminating this crazy year. I cannot express how important it has been to reflect upon all the years between then and now and to see that we can never know where this journey will take us.

We approached the actual center from the back and I have to say it was pretty disappointing. The grass was brown and under construction and everything just seemed generally derelict. But once we came around to the front of the center and saw the rest of the experience of the park itself, I felt relieved that I was in fact, not disappointed at all.

I loved the flow through the park and the thoughtfulness around exterior outside spaces. One of the things I really learned from Marion, and generally as a practice in architecture, was around the importance of context. The way the park was integrated with the highway beneath was dealt with consideration- one of the odd parts of Seattle is how separate the area by the water feels from the city itself- geographical constraints is my assumption.

I haven’t read much about the design story of this build structure and probably on purpose. I wanted to go and just experience it- discover the details all on my own. I loved every minute of it and am grateful everyday that my path crossed with Marion. It changed my life.

Website: Olympic Sculpture Park

Address: 2901 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

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