Curbed Seattle: Seventh and Westlake getting a crosswalk makeover

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This article was published on Curbed Seattle on April 20, 2017.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd

A tricky and sometimes-terrifying intersection at the junction of Downtown, South Lake Union, and the Denny Regrade is getting a colorful crosswalk redesign.

 At Seventh and Westlake, the five-point intersection—less like a star, and more like two off-kilter intersections converging—can be confusing to some. This new public art project hopes to brighten the intersection and maybe make those pedestrian crossings a little bolder.

New sidewalk designs will fit within the standard, ten-foot-wide grid. But Erica Bush, who’s spearheading the project for Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), said they were looking for “a more creative and mural-like design instead of just stripes.”

“It’s becoming such a vertical area, so the crosswalk will be able to be seen from so many different levels,” Bush told Curbed Seattle.

 After a request for qualifications, DSA selected Seattle-based artist Will Schlough to design the new crosswalk. Schlough came up with four concept designs, which were up for public input through Friday, April 21.
One has been especially popular so far: “Tessellation,” featuring interlocking designs that come out of abstraction into both fish and rocketships.
Another concept shows a topographical map of Denny Hill from 1910, before the regrade.
Another, “Knots,” aims to play with expectations of vertical stripes on a crosswalk.

Those with feelings about the project can vote for their favorite design through an online survey.

The project, DSA tells us, uses the same Department of Neighborhoods grant that funded the Pan-African Flag sidewalks in the Central District and the rainbow sidewalks in Capitol Hill.

This area of Northeast Downtown has become a hotspot for development—including Amazon’s growing downtown campus. We asked Bush if there were any further plans to enhance the intersection, which can be a challenge if you’re on foot or cycling.

Bush told us that they just wrapped some signal boxes in the area, too—and that they’re open to new projects. “After this project, we’ll start looking at where the next opportunity is,” she said.