3199 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
Cut through a berm at a King County sewer pumping station, stainless-steel plates flank Laura Haddad's 2003 Undercurrents, an etched-metal sluiceway aimed into Elliott Bay, ringed by a pleasant circular plaza. Added in '09 to help disguise a mechanical vault for the giant $140 million project beneath, the berm's plates read like a wall of hieroglyphics or blueprints for the underground apparatus. Though, certainly, no mechanical engineer would rely on them. The curlicues and diagrams meander in a pleasingly nonsensical way; printed on the steel are exploded gears and pocket change, a Magritte pipe, valves and buckets, electrons and musical notesâlike a Monopoly board designed by Rube Goldberg. Below, we know, lies the Denny Way/Lake Union Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Regulator Outfall, connected by a 6,200-foot tunnel all the way to SLU! When our sewers are overwhelmed by the weather, storm- and wastewater are belched out into the bay, far offshore. Run your fingers over the steel diagrams, and you can almost hear that rumble. BRIAN MILLER
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