The Fussy Eye: Station Break

Unwelcome sentinels at Fire Station No. 10.

Designed by shed-happy local architects Weinstein A|U, Fire Station No. 10 is a welcome blast of industrial modernism in the dowdy Yesler Triangle between the muni district and Pioneer Square. The two-year-old firehouse is clean and functional. Big red garage doors nod to tradition, but the building is free of cornices or historical filigree. Made of concrete and sheathed in corrugated metal, with a sod roof up top, the squat, low station barely makes an effort at context. You want brass fire poles and Dalmatians? Go visit a museum. But every new civic investment must come at a cost—here, it's the mediocre public art sprinkled on the grounds. On the entrance corner at Fourth Avenue South, Stuart Nakamura's Call and Response groups an etched boulder and fin-shaped metal stencil (profiling a firefighter, natch), a rather literal rendition of Company No. 10's motto: "The Rock." It's dull-minded, not awful, and completely overwhelmed by the building, which doesn't need any help. East of the garage bays, Gloria Bornstein's incongruous Sentinels are harder to miss—like giant red chessmen arrayed in terraces up Washington Street. Bornstein created the art scheme ("Different Voices, One Community"), and her eight figures have pagoda-style contours because, you see, we're also near the ID. Inclusive! (Here you can imagine the Weinstein A|U architects politely excusing themselves from the design-review meeting to go scream in the bathroom.) Nancy Chew and Jacqueline Metz also contributed some glowing, LED-lit bamboo stalks to the site. At least they don't need watering. Fire Station No. 10, 400 S. Washington St., 386-1400, seattle.gov/fire.

 
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