Untitled (Johnson Pit No. 30)

Untitled_JohnsonPitNo30_feature_©MollyLandreth_2014.jpg
SeaTac, WA
United States
Untitled (Johnson Pit No. 30)

Landscape Information

Responding to an invitation by the King County Arts Commission in 1978 to propose solutions for degraded surplus land on former industrial sites in the greater Seattle area, artist Robert Morris joined eleven other individuals who submitted designs. Funded by a consortium of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Endowment for the Arts, King County Department of Public Works, and the U.S. Bureau of Mines, Morris proposed a pit inspired by Persian and Mogul gardens and Peruvian amphitheaters.

With the Cascade Mountains in the distance, the 3.7-acre site overlooked the rural Kent Valley. Morris’s design transformed an abandoned gravel pit into a series of concentric earthen terraces planted with rye grass. Asymmetrical in form, the western side of the pit was left as a gradual slope while the eastern section was inscribed with steep terraces. Providing a symbolic reminder of the natural conditions that preceded the construction of the gravel pit, the western slope was lined with blackened tree stumps.

In 1994 the County, in consultation with Morris, undertook a restoration of the site, which by this time was bordered by residential neighborhoods. Blackened tree stumps that had degraded over time were replaced, wooden benches were added along the edge of the pit, and a stepped wooden pathway was installed to limit erosion of the terraces. Made from reclaimed fir beams, these additions were designed to be unobtrusive upon the site.