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July 30, 2021
After several months of design development and close collaboration with members of the Seattle community, the city's Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects announced that construction will begin in late 2022 on a new park at Pier 58.
This park will replace the old Waterfront Park pier which was demolished following Mayor Jenny Durkan's approval of the emergency removal of the pier in August 2020. The pier was found to have shifted several inches and was determined to be unsafe. The following month, the northeast corner of it collapsed as a concrete section was being removed.
The new Pier 58 is in the final stages of design development.
This project is part of a $737 million renovation and rehabilitation of the Seattle waterfront that began in 2010 and is headed by the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects and landscape architecture and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations.
The new pier is conceived principally with families in mind. Marshall Foster, director of the Seattle Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects explained, “We want Pier 58 to be a family-friendly hub for the community to come together on the waterfront.”
According to a press release, the new pier park will include a central event space, a shaded tree grove, an elevated lawn, and a children's playground. The Fitzgerald Fountain will be restored and integrated into the new pier. There will also be plenty of benches and places to sit and relax, a staffed restroom, and spaces for popup food and drink vendors.
Elliott Bay and the natural environment provide key inspiration for the design of the pier and playground. The children's playground, which is expected to be a highlight, will feature an 18-foot jellyfish-inspired climbing structure and slide with rolling tentacles, climbing and swinging features, and tall kelp-like poles.
The Seattle Office of the Waterfront and Civil Projects worked with Ontario, Canada-based playground design firm Earthscape on the plan for the children's playground. The playground design was also conceived in collaboration with the local community, including families, children, and the accessibility community.
Collaboration was of utmost importance Foster said. “Engagement with the community has been the foundation of the whole waterfront renovation project since day one, so for the children's playground it was essential to engage with as many families and children as possible,” he explained. It was also felt that this was imperative because the city has seen an influx of young families in recent years but there are limited family-friendly communal spaces in the downtown area.
Community outreach began shortly after the old pier was set for removal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, outreach was conducted online and included virtual open houses and a child-friendly survey. Hundreds of Washingtonians provided feedback. The city also worked closely with downtown family groups. Respondents emphasized the appeal of a maritime theme and the importance of providing safe and accessible play spaces for all ages and abilities, all of which have been incorporated into the current design.
“The jellyfish design seemed to really stand out to people and I think they will make a really bold and charismatic statement,” Foster said.
In addition to getting the look of the playground right, a key goal was ensuring accessibility. “We wanted to make the park a model for accessible play and to really innovate in that space,” Foster continued.
Pier 58 is also designed with conservation and Elliott Bay's underwater residents in mind. While maintaining a similar square footage as the original Waterfront Park, the new structure will be built in a triangular shape. This will allow more natural light to reach the water underneath the pier, which will stimulate the growth of aquatic plants. The pier will also incorporate a new opening in the near shore designed to improve the salmon habitat.
Construction is expected to take around two years with an estimated completion date of 2024 — also the projected completion date for the entire revamp of the central waterfront.
Visit https://waterfrontseattle.org/ to learn more.
Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.