Harborview reflected in artwork along new neighborhood path

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Harborview reflected in artwork along new neighborhood path

The recently opened 10th Avenue Hillclimb is a pedestrian thoroughfare linking Yesler Terrace with Seattle’s International District
McKenna Princing

Spring's colors near Harborview Medical Center are more vibrant this year with the recently completed 10th Avenue Hillclimb, a paved, artwork-studded pedestrian thoroughfare just south of the hospital.

Courtesy of the Seattle Housing Authority
One of 25 medallions is test-fitted in the wall during installation.
picture of a medallion being test-fitted in the wall during installation of Seattle's 10th Avenue Hillclimb

The Hillclimb, composed of stairs, accessible ramps and a runnel to help walk bikes up the hill, links Harborview and the Yesler Terrace neighborhood with Little Saigon and Chinatown-International District below. The structure is part of the Seattle Housing Authority’s redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. (See map of structure.)

Retaining walls along the Hillclimb are dotted with 25 bold mosaic medallions, created by artist Mauricio Robalino with input from community members. 

Peggy Weiss, art program director for UW Medicine, consulted on the art element with the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and the Housing Authority.

“The passage is open and bright, filled with natural color from trees and plants and the brilliant hues of Mauricio’s mosaics,” she said. “I hope it will bring comfort to our patients and families who use it and give them a short break from medical concerns.” 

The medallions are 2 to 4 feet in diameter. Robalino wanted the mosaics to represent the neighborhood's cultures and history. They feature prominent local figures such as Henry Yesler and gathering places such as Washington Hall. Animals and nature are represented in the artworks, too: squirrels, Stellar’s jays, cherry blossoms and even a dragonfly. A raven theme, inspired by the Duwamish Tribe, unites the pieces and is incorporated into each one. 

Artist Mauricio Robalino incorporated the Yesler Terrace's different cultures and history into the mosaics.
picture of Seattle artist Mauricio Robalino

“We organized workshops where members of the community, both adults and children, could color in design templates, create small glass houses and birds and contribute ideas that Mauricio incorporated into the final mosaics. People loved it,” said Kathlyn Paananen, senior housing developer at Seattle Housing Authority, who organized much of the project. 

Lisa Herriott, Harborview’s interior designer and manager of clinical support services and planning, participated in one of the workshops. Though she’d never worked with glass before, she said the experience was fun and easy to get the hang of, and she is excited to see the finished medallions.

“I feel like this art project is holding on to some of the Yesler community and heritage,” she said. “Harborview is in a great spot to have access to all that’s in the community, and I love to get out and walk down to the International District. This project will make it more accessible, for sure.”