Bellevue recently celebrated the reopening of City Hall Plaza, which has been years in the making. The plaza is located adjacent to the future East Link light rail Bellevue Downtown Station and has been reimagined as a welcoming public space along the Grand Connection. The project began in June 2017 with the aim of creating a cultural legacy for the city through the installation of major works of public art.
To celebrate the reopening of the plaza and the 70th anniversary of Bellevue’s incorporation, the city hosted a ribbon-breaking ceremony on March 31, which was attended by community stakeholders. The event also highlighted the plaza’s public art pieces, which reflect the city’s history, culture, and people.
One of the most striking works of art on display is “The Root,” a bronze casting of 13 different western red cedar root systems by Pacific Northwest artist Dan Corson. The project was cast in over 250 pieces and weighs over 10,500 pounds. The network of roots is a metaphor for the infrastructure systems provided by the city, such as water and transportation.
In addition to “The Root,” the plaza also features statues gifted by Bellevue’s sister city Hualien, Taiwan. The first marble guardian lion was gifted by Hualien in 1987. In 2013, a delegation from Hualien gifted the matching guardian lion to complete the pair and officially installed and “awakened” them in a dedication ceremony. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York City, Hualien gifted Bellevue the Guan Yin marble statue. Guan Yin is a bodhisattva associated with mercy and compassion and is commonly known in the west as a goddess of mercy.
The partnership between Bellevue and Sound Transit has also helped to establish the city’s multimodal transportation evolution. With the light rail station adjacent to the plaza, Bellevue has created a direct connection between downtown and East Link, a key component of the city’s transportation infrastructure. The plaza is expected to be a gateway for thousands of commuters once the station opens for service sometime between spring 2024 and spring 2025.
Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson said, “The City Hall Plaza and the Bellevue Downtown Station will allow residents, workers, and visitors to hop on light rail and connect to the regional transportation system and reach a variety of destinations where people live, work, and play.”
Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm added, “As Bellevue’s longtime partner when it comes to realizing the city’s vision for a sustainable community, Sound Transit is honored to be part of the Bellevue family and this celebration. I can’t think of a better symbol of our partnership than this plaza, which combines the front doorsteps to both Bellevue’s City Hall and Sound Transit’s Bellevue Downtown Station, which will be our busiest on the Eastside.”
The plaza, located at 450 110th Avenue NE, currently has tables and seating made possible through a partnership with the Bellevue Downtown Association. Bellevue encourages the community to visit and enjoy this community-centered space.