WATER TABLE / WATER GLASS

2001 • Ellington Condominiums, Seattle, WA

Stainless steel, glass, granite, water, and equisetaceae. Glass: 8' x 4' dia. Table: 3' x 4' x 4'.

Water Table / Water Glass sited in the Ellington Condominium plaza exemplifies how art can work on a number of meaningful levels. As sculpture, Water Table / Water Glass provide a domestic tableau. As metaphor, Water Table / Water Glass are two elements, which create utilitarian fountains; the glass becomes a vessel, a cistern, and a detention tank; the table expresses the philosophical approach for the plaza's landscape irrigation water table system as well as a usable table when dry. Both sculptures join to nurture the wetlands landscape. Two ten-story towers' roof watershed provides rainwater for the two sculptures at plaza level: Water Glass from the south tower and Water Table from the north tower. The rainwater enters large baroque scuppers at the roofline and is directed through watertight stainless steel downspouts on the exterior of the two buildings.


Seven tensioning rings around Water Glass exterior serve the same structural purpose as those found on large wooden water tanks. The downspouts to Water Glass transfer their offering into a 5-inch diameter flexible "hospital" straw that empties into the 8-foot high tapered vessel. The vessel is cantilevered, gesturing an offering of its contents to the landscape. The shape of the glass is reminiscent of a pint beer glass or tall latte cup. The structure is made of stainless steel with twelve two-ply laminated glass panels; each panel is one and one half inches thick.


The wetland contained by the seating wall around Water Glass is planted with the rush-like survivor of the carboniferous age, Equisetaceae, commonly known as "horsetail" or "scouring rush" because of its effectiveness at cleaning. This plant has an extensive history of medical applications. To the west of Water Glass, the wetlands are nurtured by the confluence of both water features as well as additional downspouts entering the courtyard. The shallow water table wetlands required a specially formed structural slab at the very beginning of the project. This shallow "water table" landscape requires the stewardship of the residents to realize the potential of a horticultural expression of lush wetlands. Presently, the private courtyard landscape is planted as a placeholder.

© 2001 Buster Simpson

Site Design by Todd Metten

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