The artist behind the Wall of Death—a sculpture along the Burke Gilman Trail which had been used as an unofficial skatespot for about a decade before the Seattle Department of Transportation installed an rock barrier last October—says he actually designed the sculpture with skaters in mind.
“We were just looking at people using the trail including cyclists, inline skaters, skateboarders and people with mobility contraptions strapped to their bodies beyond description,” says artist Mowry Baden, 71. “We thought it would be cool to make a ramp come down and bend with the trail so [skaters] could trick on it as they used the trail. We were making a work of art and we thought that we would make it skateable."
Baden says he consulted with skaters when designing the sculpture in 1993 and although the city asked him to design skating “countermeasures,” they were never installed.
Although the sculpture was designed to be skateable, Baden says he’s more concerned about public safety than skater access. “There have been some collisions. That can’t happen again,” he says. “So while it is lamentable that our work has to be modified, it is inevitable that something must be done. It’s too bad. I regret that.”
Baden says he'll meet with SDOT on December 14th to discuss updating his sculpture. Baden says he wants to install a new barrier, "but good looking."