A sculpture called “Building Blocks” is installed at Roosevelt Station.
Media Caption
Sound Transit contractors install “Building Blocks” by Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt at Roosevelt Station.

Art that reflects and creates community

Sound Transit recently installed two new pieces of art at Roosevelt and Northgate stations

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Sound Transit is just two years away from opening three new stations in the U District, at Roosevelt and at Northgate. The new stations will add 4.3 new miles of traffic-free light rail, getting you from Northgate to downtown Seattle in just 14 minutes.

Along with guideways, tunnels and of course, rails that are already in place, in July our crews installed new station art at Roosevelt and Northgate. Suddenly those stations got a lot prettier. 

One goal of Sound Transit’s art program, or STart, is to incorporate art that reflects the communities we serve. The artists selected for these projects used the surrounding neighborhood as a muse.

Sound Transit employees take a look at the new glass art at Northgate Station.
The art at Northgate was inspired by the green darner dragonfly - the official insect of Washington state.

For Northgate Station, Mary Ann Peters created a painting in glass inspired by the nature and sounds of the area: the dragonflies in the neighborhood’s green spaces, layered with abstracted wave patterns of freeway sounds. 

Her main piece covers over 100 feet of the upper west windows on the passenger platform. A second, smaller artwork is in the stairwell glass facing Northeast 103rd Street.

I think these connections are what every successful public art project strives for, to make a marriage between the art and the community. -Mary Ann Peters

Artist Mary Ann Peters checks out her work at Northgate Station.
The artist checks out her work at Northgate Station.

The laminated glass panels are painted with ceramic colors that are fired and permanently fused to the glass, making the artwork durable and long lasting.

“Handpainted glass is a world unto itself. Learning the chemistry and the artistry simultaneously was incredibly challenging,” Peters said. 

In Roosevelt, neighbors requested a space where people can meet, chat and mingle. 

So artists Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt created a landmark for the neighborhood, rising from the future public plaza at Northeast 67th Street and 12th Avenue Northeast. 

Anchoring the south and west edges of the plaza, the artists designed two deep green floral-patterned benches to sit on a “carpet” of black concrete inset with a pattern of concentric stainless steel rings. 

Contractors recently installed the centerpiece three-tiered sculpture, called “Building Blocks,” at the north end of the plaza.

It is a 49 feet tall, 21 feet wide (but only 2-1/2 feet deep) stepped pyramid, assembled from columns and beams and painted in bold tones of gold, yellow, green, blue and red.

An illustration of the 'Building Blocks' sculpture with the completed plaza and landscaping
An illustration of the sculpture with the completed plaza and landscaping. Credit R&R Studios

About the artists

Mary Ann Peters’ combined studio work, installations, public art projects and arts activism have made noted contributions in the Northwest and nationally for over the past 30 years. 

She lives and works in Seattle, and worked an artisan colleague Marcela Teal, along with the staff at Mayer of Munich Studio in Munich, Germany, to fabricate the art for Northgate Station. The station contractor, Absher Construction, installed it.

Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt’s award-winning practice, R&R Studios, has been published in over 250 publications worldwide and exhibited in solo and group shows in museums and galleries in America and Europe. They displayed their “Besame Mucho” “super billboard” at the Coachella music festival in 2016. 

Rosario and Roberto have known each other since childhood, and studied architecture in Argentina and in New York City. They currently teach at University of Miami’s School of Architecture.

Selection panels used in awarding these art commissions consisted of representative stakeholders from the neighborhoods, Sound Transit design team architects and professional artists.

“Building Blocks” was put together at Fabrication Specialties in Seattle.
“Building Blocks” was put together at Fabrication Specialties in Seattle. Credit R&R Studios

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