As part of the vision for a new, “post-viaduct” waterfront along Seattle’s Elliott Bay shoreline, many great ideas have been proposed and developed, with some becoming realities, while some fell by the wayside. Berger was thrilled to lead the development of the pool barge, unique among the waterfront projects in both program and locale.
On the Bay, Looking Back at the City: While the Waterfront Seattle projects re-center the city around the bay, leading visitors to and along the water’s edge, the pool barge allows visitors to leave the land and become part of the bay, removed from the waterfront to experience a unique vantage point back to the city.
A Catalyst Project: The pool barge is inherently mobile, allowing it to be completed in advance of many of the waterfront projects and moored at differing locations around the city. Accelerated completion of the project was to create an exciting attraction with high visibility that encouraged people to see the waterfront from a new perspective, and building anticipation and excitement.
Programmed Recreation: The pool barge was to serve residents of downtown as well as visitors, complementing the passive recreation and programmed events associated with other waterfront elements. As a programmed recreation facility and a maritime vessel, the pool barge was shaped by a highly detailed level of regulatory and operations detail that will continue to guide design decisions.
A Dream Unrealized (but in waiting!): While the pool barge was loved by many and received a very positive community response in project polls, it was, almost by definition (as feature that could be floated away), not a “critical function” and was ultimately cut from the project. The wonderful absurdity of the pool barge is exactly what would make it a treasured piece of Seattle lore, a completely unexpected and unneeded element, but one that would meet very real critical needs while creating buzz and excitement. Its wonderful absurdity is what makes it special, and the reason it was among the most predominantly featured of all the Seattle Waterfront proposals in local media and periodicals. We dream that the pool barge, by nature of its portability, may once again rise from the bay to assume its rightful place as a treasured icon and experience of Seattle.