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King County Earthworks Tour

The earthworks rejuvenated my spirit, body and soul. I wish all public works and remediation projects in the U.S. could be this poetic and simultaneously functional. This is placemaking at its finest!   

Christina Lanzl, Boston, MA 

 

RobertMorris_250
Robert Morris Earthwork 1979

(photo: Spike Mafford, 2007)

 

 

LJordan_250
Waterworks Gardens, Lorna Jordan 1997

(photo: David McDonald, 1996)

 

GRNRA 

Green River Natural Resources Area 

 



 

To finally see the Morris and Bayer earthworks almost 30 years later and see the artists' vision - how powerful they still are! How influential!  

Mags Harries, Cambridge, MA 

This tour gave me so much hope for the future because of the inspiring landscapes that make the impact of humans lovely instead of distressing. 

Laurel Whitehurst, Vancouver, WA  

     South King County is home to three iconic examples of
     earth art: the Herbert Bayer Earthwork, the
     Robert Morris Earthwork and and Lorna Jordan’s
     Waterworks  Gardens. Visit all three sites for a view of
     green infrastructure, environmental art, and cross-
     disciplinary collaboration. This self-guided tour is free
     and open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk.

     I was moved by the sensory qualities of each of the
     sites: the fluid lushness of the Bayer Earthworks; the
     arid canyon of the Morris gravel pit; the floral smells
     and serpentine smoothness of the
     Jordan waterworks.
  
 

Kristin Tollefson, Bainbridge Island, WA 


     The Robert Morris and Herbert Bayer earthworks
     were developed in conjunction with the groundbreaking   
     1979 Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture   
     symposium sponsored by the King County Arts  
     Commission and hosted at the Seattle Art Museum. This
     symposium made a significant contribution to the  
     development of Public Art in the region and nation. 
 
     A premier example of the symposium's influence is Lorna
     Jordan’s Waterworks Gardens, completed in 1996 at
     the Renton sewage treatment plant. This environmental
     artwork purifies stormwater, enhances a wetland,
     provides garden rooms and creates eight acres of new
     open space for public use.

     The Robert Morris Earthwork and Lorna Jordan's  
     Waterworks Gardens
 are both part of the 4Culture 
     Public Art
 collection.

     The Earthworks tour includes a side trip to the Green 
     River Natural Resources Area
 (GRNRA). The site,
     formerly an abandoned sewage lagoon system, was
     transformed by the Kent Public Works Department into
     a combined storm water detention and enhanced
     wetland facility. It provides habitat to an estimated 165
     birds and 53 mammals, and serves as a nesting, feeding
     and brooding area for many species that use the Green
     River corridor as a travel route.  The GRNRA is one of
     the largest man-made, multi-use wildlife refuges in the 
     United States, and it attracts bird watchers from around  
     the world.

     These sites are alive and welcome all
     to explore the power of art amidst natural and
     constructed landscape.
 

Emily Blumenfeld, St. Louis, MO


 

Driving Directions (A bike tour is coming soon - funded by the NEA) :
print version


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Earthworks Tour

a. Herbert Bayer Earthworks
   742 East Titus Street, Kent, WA

b. Green River Natural Resources Area
    West of 64th Ave S between S 228th and S 212th

c. Robert Morris Earthwork
    21610 - 37th Place South, SeaTac, WA

d. Lorna Jordan Waterworks Gardens
    1200 Monster Road SW, Renton, WA

 




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to: Herbert Bayer Earthworks (a)
from: Seattle or Tacoma

  1. From I-5, take the WA-516 Exit #149 towards Kent.
  2. Go East on S Kent Des Moines Rd (WA 516 E)
  3. Continue to follow WA 516 E into downtown Kent. Pass under Hwy 167
  4. Turn left onto 4th Avenue South
  5. Turn right onto Gowe Street. Cross the train tracks and Central Ave S
  6. Continue on S Gowe St, the make a slight left onto E Titus
  7. Turn right onto Reiten Rd
  8. Turn left into the parking lot at 742 E Titus 

 





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to: Robert Morris Earthwork via the GRNRA (c, b)
from: Herbert Bayer Earthworks (a)
 

Turn left onto E Titus. E Titus becomes S Gowe St.
Turn right on 4th Ave S. Turn left on James and head west.
Turn right onto 64th Avenue and head north. Turn left on S 228th.
Turn right just before the overpass onto Russell Road.
Arrive at the Green River Natural Resources Area. The bird watching towers and a small parking lot are on your right, just before S 212th                                                                                          Turn right on S 212th and head east.
                                                                                          At the next stoplight, turn left into the office park and turn
                                                                                          around, so that you’re heading West on S 212.
                                                                                          Take a left on 42nd Ave S.
                                                                                          Take a slight right onto 40th Pl S, wind up the steep hill.
                                                                                          The Robert Morris parking lot is on your right.

 

 


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to: Lorna Jordan Waterworks Gardens (d)from: Robert Morris Earthwork (c) 

Head up the hill and take a right on Military Road S.
Merge onto I-5 North towards Seattle.
Merge onto I-405 N via exit 154 towards Renton.
Take the WA-181 SW Valley Highway exit 1 towards Tukwila.
Turn left onto W Valley Highway/Interurban Avenue South.
Turn right onto S Grady Way.
Directly after the overpass, turn left onto Longacres Dr SW.
Turn right onto Jackson Pl SW. Jackson becomes Monster Rd SW.

                                                                                          The entrance is on your right, just after a bike sign and before
                                                                                          Oaksdale.

to: Seattle via I-5 North
from: Lorna Jordan Waterworks Gardens (d) 

Turn left onto S Oaksdale and head west.
S Oaksdale becomes Beacon Coal Mine Rd and 68th Ave S.
Turn left at Martin Luther King Jr. Way S/ WA-900.
Continue to follow Martin Luther King Jr. Way S onto I-5 North.

*** Please note: there is no direct access to I-5 South from MLK.

to: Hwy 167 South towards Herbert Bayer Earthworks (a)
from: Lorna Jordan Waterworks Gardens (d) 

Take a right onto S Oaksdale and head east.
Oakesdale curves south.
Take a left onto SW Grady Way and head east.
Turn right onto Rainier Avenue South and merge onto Hwy 167.

 


Tips 

All of the sites require a lot of walking. The Robert Morris is not ADA and quite steep. Unless in good health, it is recommended that you not descend into the pit, but instead view the site from the parking lot. Sturdy shoes are recommended. The goats (shown in the photo above) help with vegetation management but are not on site year-round.

If you are visiting from outside of the Northwest, please keep in mind that the weather here changes quickly. Dress in layers and bring both sunglasses and an umbrella.

Parking at the Robert Morris Earthwork and Waterworks Gardens is limited. 

Enjoy breakfast or lunch in historic downtown Kent and dinner at Kent Station.  

The tour can be completed in 3 hours if you sprint (and traffic is good). Allowing a half-day is more enjoyable. 

The maps shown above are available here as a printable PDF.

For more information about touring these sites, please contact Cheryl dos Remedios at cdosremedios@kentwa.gov or (253)856-5050.