1997 • University of Washington, Tacoma, WA

Parapet Relay is two-part: a massive pair of signs creating the parapet (roofline) of the Woodruff-Pratt Building and a series of sidewalk plaques working in concert with the parapet. The Woodruff-Pratt Building, one of UWT's academic buildings, was originally built as a warehouse and served that purpose for many years. During those years the services provided by the warehouse company were prominently painted on almost every available surface of the building, including the parapet site. The largest of those signs read STORAGE.

The project pays homage to both the history of the building and the campus' warehouse neighborhood in addition to the tradition of applied text on university buildings by re-applying a series of words to the parapet, albeit words that are more appropriate to the contemporary use of the old warehouse. The words are applied in a variety of mediums to a louvered surface which kinesthetically changes as one moves throughout the campus and surrounding neighborhood.

When a passerby moves downhill along 19th street, he will first read the word IDEA (and WISDOM when the light is just right) along the parapet, then GATHER, then (after crossing Pacific) LABOR. If he were to walk towards downtown along Pacific Avenue, he would first see the word STORAGE, then the letters UW (in front of the History Museum), and then finally TACOMA. At the optimum viewing points for the words IDEA/WISDOM, GATHER, STORAGE and LABOR, Simpson has installed cast iron and bronze plaques expanding upon the parapet words and linking them to the contemporary use of this part of Tacoma. In between those viewing points, the parapet project displays a rich intermixing of all the words making up the panels.

Site Design: Todd Metten