Art planned for Overlake Village to celebrate tech, LGBTQ+ community

A Gateway art and bike/pedestrian art tunnel are planned.

At the beginning of the month, two large art projects for Overlake Village were reviewed at a council committee meeting.

The large-scale art projects will be installed in the vicinity of 152nd Avenue Northeast.

The first project discussed was the 152nd Avenue Northeast public art project. Chris Weber, cultural arts administrator, presented the proposal to find an artist.

The street is planned to become the main street, pedestrian and retail-focused corridor in Overlake Village, which will connect to Bellevue, two city parks, the bus transit center and the upcoming Overlake Village Light Rail Station. The Redmond director team and Redmond Mayor John Marchione approved of the city incorporating public art into the 152nd Avenue Northeast redevelopment project in 2016. Council then adopted the public art plan in 2017, prioritizing the project as a Leading with Arts and Cultural Engagement LACE Project.

The gateway wall art is planned for the corner of Northeast 24th Street and 152nd Avenue Northeast and is meant to welcome those who travel to Redmond by light rail.

Councilmember David Carson asked if there was a specific theme for the wall and suggested the gateway wall should be concentrated on the north side, as it should be a gateway to Redmond and should welcome people into Redmond instead of “issuing” people out of Redmond.

Weber said this project would highlight the innovation, creativity, and diversity of that area. Carolyn Hope, park planning and cultural art manager, added that the Overlake Village neighborhood is home to many tech companies and they decided to name the streets after artists and scientists to get a sense of creativity. She said they would like the artist to build off that theme.

Councilmember Hank Myers was concerned the wall would cut into neighboring properties like Goodwill. Weber and Hope reassured Myers and the council the walls would remain the same level.

The total budget for the gateway wall project is $180,000 for design, collaboration, fabrication, installation and expenses. The total budget includes a one percent allocation from the project.

The capital project is currently at 60 percent design and is on pause. The Arts and Culture Commission will put out a call and select an artist so they can begin the work. The art project will likely be constructed in 2021.

The second art project presented was the #PridePortal for the SR 520 grade separation at Northeast 40th Street project.

The SR 520 at Northeast 40th Street replaces the current 520 Trail at the grade crossing of Northeast 40th Street with a tunnel for pedestrians and bicycles. The tunnel connects the 520 Trail, Northeast 40th Street and the Redmond Technology Center pedestrian/bicycle bridge. The project is located in a high-volume pedestrian environment and will help improve pedestrian experience in the tunnel.

The city advertised a call for artists in 2016 and received 45 applications. The Arts and Culture Commission selected Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design + Architecture. His final art concept was a #PridePortal for the SR 520 grade separation at Northeast 40th Street.

Weber said the final art concept was a way to celebrate technology and the LGBTQ+ community. He said the tunnel would be decorated with tiles made by a robot. The tunnel art will include a forest of palm trees set against a rainbow sunset. The art tiles will be durable and graffiti proof, according to Weber.

Myers said he didn’t oppose the idea but was concerned about the artwork not representing the whole community. If the artwork is directed toward the LGBTQ+ community, Myers asked how the rest of the communities would respond to that. He made the point that other communities might want artwork that represents them.

Councilmember Tanika Padhye added that Redmond has made it clear they are inclusive of all people. She said she doesn’t see the community being offended by the #PridePortal.

“We are embracing people as they walk through the tunnel,” she said.

Another concern mentioned was safety. Carson was concerned the tunnel would be “eye tricking.” He also asked if it would be difficult to navigate through the tunnel.

Weber assured Carson, the tunnel would be safe to travel through, as the artwork would only be located on the tunnel walls and not on the ground.

The cost estimate for this project is $90,300 for fabrication and installation. It is jointly funded from the project, using WSDOT grant funding of $32,200 and the public art fund of $57,100.

Three versions of this proposal were presented to the Arts and Culture Commission and the artwork is expected to be completed between 2020 and 2021.