The Battery Street Tunnel Project
Throughout Seattle’s history, the land around the Battery Street Tunnel has been dramatically engineered and sculpted to reflect the desires and dreams of the western city. With Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation planning an alternative to the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Battery Street Tunnel will likely be decommissioned, filled and sealed off. This project explores a different fate for the Tunnel, and broadly suggests that infrastructure can be appropriated to embody a different set of values than the ones that motivated its construction. Specifically, rather than being permanently sealed, the Tunnel could be re-appropriated as a public space. Through selective disassembly and excavation, it could be transformed into a series of connected stages that engage the public’s collective imagination and allow Seattle to meet its mythic past.
The scope of the design project can be understood in three phases. The first phase involves partial disassembly of the tunnel. The second phase involves excavation and mounding of land around the tunnel. And the third phase involves the insertion of new programs and paths for bikes, people, and water. Empty parking lots around Battery Street, combined with landmarks, framed views, parks and transportation routes, inform the specific placement and nature of 5 “meanders” or new public spaces along the tunnel route. These spaces are named the Labyrinth, the Amphitheater, the Quarry, the Forum and the Threshold. The Battery Street Tunnel Project explores the potential of these interventions to re-define Seattle’s relationship to time, place and infrastructure.