The people have spoken, and “Sunlight Over First Hill” is the concept to beautify the gray columns under I-5, between Cherry and James streets.
Nathan Watkins is a senior digital design student in Seattle University’s College of Arts and Sciences, and had made his mark in First Hill before his designs for the I-5 columns took the deciding votes against four other artists last week.
Watkins created designs for signal boxes up in First Hill; a project also spearheaded by the First Hill Improvement Association.
Using $40,000 from the Office of Economic Development’s 2016 Only in Seattle grant, FHIA commissioned Urban Artworks to complete the I-5 columns project, but sought designs through a call for artists back in January. Watkins will receive $10,000 from the budget for his winning design.
“After many days of thought, I decided the most effective way to signal entry into First Hill to the largest amount of people would be to build from its common visual cues,” Watkins wrote in his design proposal, “amalgamating elements taken from places like the Italianate style brick architecture common
in First Hill, the steepness of the streets, identifiable landmarks, a larger than average amount of greenery, and geographical bearings.”
The design will cover around 70 columns under I-5, which are owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT had final say on the project.
Urban Artworks is a Seattle-based nonprofit that completes art projects by working with local artists and at-risk youth.