Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 1
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 2
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 3
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 4
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 5
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 6
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 7
Leaf, Seattle, Washington / image 8

Seattle U.S. Courthouse

In the Pacific Northwest, Alder trees are the first to emerge after a landslide, forest fire, or clearcut. They help resist erosion, nitrogenate the soil, and provide shade for the slower growing conifers, playing a central role in the renewal and regeneration of the forest. Thus the alder leaf can be seen as a symbol of renewal. In this context it may apply equally to the biological or the personal.

Architecturally, the leaf’s form composes well within the unusually tall and narrow atrium space, helping mediate its height, and offering an intriguing spatial filigree of colorful views from every level. The network of cables tying the leaf to the building’s walls not only performs structurally; it also conveys graphically the inter-connectedness of the various departments of the courts system.

At times of day when the sun aligns with the skylight, its rays fall on the sculpture and are projected and reflected around the atrium by the dichroic glass elements emanating from the leaf. A suggestion of photosynthesis accompanies the glass and light arrayed around the outer edges. The atrium is enlivened by slowly moving patterns of color on the walls and floor.

We are left with intriguing questions: is this enormous leaf collecting or radiating, ascending or descending, technological or biological?


Courthouse atrium

Client: US General Services Administration

Seattle, Washington

Date: June 2004

Dimensions: 13m high, 15m long, 8m wide

Materials: Aluminum, stainless steel, dichroic glass, and natural stone.

Descriptors: Sculpture, site specific sculpture, interior sculpture, interior sculpture suspended, architectural sculpture, architectural art, public art, commissioned art, glass art, art glass, architectural art glass, laminated glass art, suspended sculpture, suspended glass art sculpture, tension sculpture, cable art, cable tension sculpture, art lighting, illuminated art, illuminated sculpture, night lighting art


Ed Carpenter Studio
1812 NW 24th Avenue
Portland, Oregon USA 97210

Tel: 503 224 6729
Fax: 503 241 3142