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October 12, 2021

Land art at SeaTac gravel pit makes historic places list

A/E Editor

Photo by Joe Freeman/King County Public Art Collection [enlarge]
To return the land to active use, Morris terraced the earth, and planted it with rye grass.

In a precedent-setting inclusion, Robert Morris' Untitled Earthwork (Johnson Pit #30 in SeaTac) has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The land art was commissioned in 1979 as part of a King County Arts Commission (now known as 4culture) initiative to create historic public artworks designed to rehabilitate natural areas damaged by industry. The 3.7-acre site that is now home to Morris' work was a former gravel pit.

This is the first piece of contemporary land art to be added to the register. It was included due to “its significant contribution to the broad patterns of history,” embodiment of “distinctive characteristics,” and “high artistic values.” In June, the work was also added to the Washington Heritage Register.

Places are added to the National Register through a nomination and extensive review process.

Washington State Architectural Historian Michael Houser, who lent support to the nomination, said in a press release, “listing a property less than 50 years old is quite special, and this is the first project in the United States to use funding from a 1% for Art program for arts-based environmental reclamation. The nomination will set precedent for others to come.”


Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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