The Curator’s Eye

Amazon Campus, South Lake Union : Reflecting on the ’Hood

As Amazon employees moved into their new South Lake Union headquarters in early April, they likely glimpsed the large sculpture that forms the latest addition to the area’s growing collection of public art. Overlooking the complex’s central square, the sculpture features two arcs of shimmering gold coming together at what seems to be the literal and spiritual center of the campus. From a distance, the two large wings look a lot like an open book, the product on which Amazon built its empire. But the resemblance is completely coincidental, says Ann Gardner, the Seattle artist who created the work under commission from Schnitzer West and the Vulcan Group.

Ann Gardner, Convergence, 2010, smalti, concrete, steel, 12 x 50 x 6 feet

“I had no intention of having it resemble a book,” Gardner says, “but I think it’s wonderful that you can see that in it. That’s the way this kind of art should work.”

Gardner, who has created numerous glass and mosaic installations over the last fifteen years, was tasked with creating a work of art that would help define the surrounding area as a gathering point.

Gardner teamed up with the fabrication company Franz Meyer of Munich to create a glass-tile mosaic, which consists of inch-thick yellow and golden smalti tiles and inch-thick pieces of glass tile that can withstand reaching hands and harsh weather.

The glass tiles also create brilliant and unexpected light shows throughout the day.

“The piece faces west, so we always knew that it would be brilliant on late sunny afternoons,” she says. “What we didn’t expect was that, in the mornings, the rising sun would reflect off the glass of the other buildings and create a very different but beautiful display.” •


Gardner studied: Ceramics and fine arts at University of Oregon & Portland State University
Studio location: Wallingford
Commissioned works done: 40
Currently working on: Sun, a hanging installation at San Antonio International Airport
Best-selling sculpture book on when this article was written: Human Anatomy for Artists by Eliot Goldfinger (Oxford University Press)