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4 changes for the Capitol Hill light rail jets

Remember when it seemed like everybody was freaked out about the Capitol Hill light rail station jet art and then we realized that, really, we were probably evenly split on the issue? OK, I made that last part up — nobody remembers realizing that but me. But you do remember everybody freaking out.

Well, last night’s Sound Transit open house was amazing for one more factor beyond the stat I mentioned earliernobody gave a shit about the jets.

Maybe it’s the new design elements the artist Mike Ross has incorporated since the last time we discussed the station art project.

The jets before…


And the jets after

A few changes:

  1. The jets are more segmented which makes them lighter and more bird-like (less jet-like)
  2. There are connective yellow struts to make the pieces unified (less wreck-like)
  3. There is more ‘upward’ direction in the way the pieces are arranged and pointed (less divebomb-like)
  4. The jets are also closer together in a kind of ‘kiss’ (less dogfight-like)

Here’s a closer view:



The artist, god bless him, talked about how the public process and feedback had further shaped his work. Maybe so. But he also called his planned pieces ‘fighter jets’ with a bit of naughty, tourettic glee. I cynically chalk the struts up to the necessity of physics but maybe the two forces work hand in hand.

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5 thoughts on “4 changes for the Capitol Hill light rail jets

  1. I never agreed with the freaking out before; I always really liked the idea of transforming these giant death machines into two “kissing birds”. And now I like it even more. I think all of the improvements are good ones. And I like the way he plans on keeping the main mass of the pieces to either side of the main axis as you descend the escalator, so that you can still look all the way down the length of the station. I also really dig the hand paintings (by another artist) that will be at the ground-level entrances.

  2. The feeling I got from the first meeting was that a few aging war protesters and college students who won’t even live in the neighborhood once it’s built are the only ones who had issues with the art. Then the “news” crew was interviewing people there expressly to create the story. They stuck their microphone in our faces and when we started praising the artwork they quickly jerked the microphone away and found some curmudgeons to give a soapbox to. Glad the artist has stuck to his vision and is working it through the process!

  3. I don’t know who was complaining about these pieces, but I expressly went to this meeting so I could support Mike if other people complained (I had already been to the last design review meeting so I was up-to-date on most of the actual design stuff.) While I don’t particularly like the pieces, I understand many people do and I wouldn’t complain about public art simply because it doesn’t fit into my tastes (however, the design is growing on me the more I think about it.)

    jdestes, I sense that you are implying we shouldn’t spend on art. Only 1% of the ST budget goes to art. I know some people don’t appreciate art at all, but having public projects with no art leads to uninviting spaces that look like something from Soviet-era Russia. Plus, the federal government highly encourages (read: considers for future funding) spending on art to make spaces more welcoming, enjoyable and safe (not sure how that relates exactly). You can get all the boring details from the FTA here: