Olson Kundig

Stop by to watch it disappear, or maybe chip some flakes off for your gin and tonic.

Temperatures in Seattle are supposed to peak in the 70s on Friday, but anyone seeking a rapid cool-down can go to Occidental Square and hug a 10-ton ice cube plopped on the ground.

The frigid installation, made by local architects at Olson Kundig, will appear on Friday and quietly melt in the following days for the Seattle Design Festival. Though a similar artwork of glacier ice graced last year’s climate summit in Paris, the message here is not (explicitly) global warming. Rather, it’s about the never-ceasing migration of water from land to sea and back again—something the perennially misted city should know a lot about. The architects write:

ICE CUBE, a temporary installation designed by Olson Kundig, showcases the stages of the natural water cycle as the ice shifts from opaque to translucent. As the 10-ton ice cube evaporates and melts, it offers a cool respite to visitors and scatters ambient sunlight and colors throughout the park. The pure form of the cube will gradually erode in the summer sun, marking the passage of time as its waters slowly return to the sea.

Will pedestrians be tripping over this thing when it’s the size of a shoebox in October? That’s unknown. Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington, thinks the rate of melting depends on many things—wind speed, cloud cover, transport of ground heat into the cube’s frozen heart, etc. People are speculating on Mass’ blog when the cube will be fully puddle-ized; dates range from a few days to this incredible prognostication from Dave Z:

It could last for quite sometime, if it’s placed in the shade and if the rains hold out until later in the fall. Think chunk of glacier or small iceberg. I’d say the sun and rain are key, or if black bodies attach to it like autumn leaves. I’d like to give Christmas Day the estimated date, but I’m tempted to move the melt date to much later time in the winter. So I will: March 16, [2017].

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. a map of the Mayan Train route in Mexico
    Environment

    Mexico’s ‘Mayan Train’ Is Bound for Controversy

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s signature rail project would link cities and tourist sites in the Yucatan with rural areas and rainforests.

  4. A photo of a design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
    Design

    Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

    A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Chicago preservationists can proceed, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's plans to build his library in Jackson Park.

  5. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.