This sculpture resides in a public park officially called the Waterworks Gardens at the King County, South Treatment Plant in Renton, Washington. It was designed by Lorna Jordan (grant recipient), a talented Seattle Artist whose whimsical paving and interest in colored stone shines through the piece. The grotto, made of tinted concrete was sprayed in layers over a steel substructure, recalls the Italian tradition of grotto making that harkens back to the time of Hadrian. Although uncommon in American public spaces, grottos of this type grace many of the best formal gardens constructed in the last two thousand years. Working together, we overcame considerable budget and technical challenges that allowed Lorna’s unique vision to be built. Scraps of granite slab material were broken and softened in a giant home-made stone tumbler to minimize cost. Zinc terrazzo strip was deployed to demarcate pattern boarders as well as reduce the invariable Seattle moss that can make public pavements slick (rainwater washing over zinc kills organic material).
Although the larger purpose of this public park was to re-invigorate the sterile, post-sewage treatment water with organic matter, the Waterworks garden grotto has been embraced by young lovers as a public garden to stroll, kiss and even marry. It has become the site of frequent weddings by those who feel potent intimacy of this very public park.