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January 20, 2022

City seeks contractor to renovate DuPen Fountain at Seattle Center

  • The reimagined fountain plaza extends the function of Climate Pledge Arena and Seattle Center.
    Swift Company

    Image from Swift Co. [enlarge]
    The reworked fountain will include an interactive spray plaza.

    Located at Seattle Center between Climate Pledge Arena and the northwest edge of campus, the DuPen Fountain renovation of approximately 6,000 square feet includes, but is not limited to, select demolition, grading and erosion control, concrete splash pad element installation with interactive water jets, and updates to the associated mechanical and electrical equipment. A new landscape area will provide a more intimate setting with lush planting and a generous seat wall and the three DuPen bronze sculptures will be fully accessible within the plaza open space.

    The project is currently out to bid under the city of Seattle, with the opening scheduled for Feb. 2. According to a Jan. 7 notice in the DJC, the estimated cost of the base project base is $923,000, excluding tax. Five additives could add about $205,000 to the total.


    Seattle's community “heart,” the Seattle Center campus has space to host over 1,400 events per year. The new arena plazas create a multitude of additional gathering spaces for events, people watching, and the celebration of community life — including the Seattle Storm and new NHL team Seattle Kraken. The surrounding communities of Uptown, Queen Anne, Belltown and South Lake Union, with their commitment to increased density, now have generous plazas and gardens of all sizes for the intimate moments of daily life.

    The arena precinct is a place of magic and memory comprising the great legacy London plane trees that envelop the site, the reimagined DuPen Fountain, the northwest edge of the campus with its collection of critical community organizations (including KEXP, The Vera Project, SIFF, and A/NT Gallery), and the arena itself, with many new publicly accessible art installations.

    The transformation of DuPen Fountain embodies the very best of stewardship and civic commitment to the community. Seattle Center has endeavored to implement a new vision of the historic open space that weaves the history of the fountain, the Everett DuPen sculptures, and arena with the current ambitions of the campus open space network.

    The fountain was originally part of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and is a historic landmark. It underwent renovation in the 1990s, in close collaboration with the artist Everett DuPen, that brought a theme of connections to nature. The current scheme weaves these former concepts into a contemporary water feature and plaza that is universally accessible.

    To plan for this renovation, the project team assembled a stakeholder steering committee, which included the DuPen family, regular users of the site and historic preservation advocates. The team also gathered broader public input through online and in-person surveys. Public input indicated that preserving a sense of intimacy and relaxation, and focusing on interaction with the water features, were top priorities.

    As a part of the western precinct of Seattle Center, DuPen Fountain is a place of relative quiet and is sheltered by the surrounding buildings. The reimagined fountain plaza extends the function of the arena and Seattle Center and recaptures the full site for public use. With careful grade manipulation, ADA access is ubiquitous, and barriers are removed. Places that are easy to use and where you can focus on people and activities instead of where to move your feet make for a more generous place.


    DuPen Fountain is part of a larger composition and is integrated into the arena and campus framework. When visitors arrive — to stop and relax or play in the water feature — they should feel as if the whole place was designed as one place. Seamless transitions between old and new are an essential attribute of transforming legacy civic spaces over time, and the project embraced the challenge of making this western edge of Seattle Center whole again. The result is what makes Seattle Center Seattle's heart. The design creates the stage for the daily life of the city, and a central meeting place of celebration and ritual — a place that feels like it belongs to the public. This is what stewarding the past for the future is all about.

    Working in a place which is sacred to the city and its history requires careful work. The consistent and thoughtful attention to historic landmarks and working with the city's Department of Neighborhoods Landmarks Preservation Board means that the integrity of DuPen Fountain and the overall site is retained and upgraded. For DuPen Fountain, it means Everett DuPen's original intention of creating a touchable place that speaks to the importance of science and the source of life carries forward in the future. And the future is brought to play, continuing Seattle's groundbreaking tradition of integrating public art into our civic spaces, each speaking with a different voice reflecting the diversity of the community.

    Barbara Swift, founder of Swift Co., is the principal-in-charge for the DuPen Fountain project. Gareth Loveridge is the project manager and lead for landscape design for the project.

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