Stainless-steel arches spring out of two concrete-and-steel pillar artifacts from the World Trade Center, creating a contemporary, canopy-like entryway to Fire Station 92.
In 2011, the Mercer Island City Council authorized the demolition of the existing Fire Station 92 and the construction of a replacement, which opened in 2015. The City planned for a public art element at the new facility and selected the Seattle-based artist team John Sisko and Jim Brown to create the installation. Meanwhile, cities and towns, fire departments, and other public entities across the country had been vying for remnants of the World Trade Center (WTC). By 2011, most were claimed, but then-Fire Chief Chris Tubbs contacted the Port Authority of New York and successfully secured an artifact for the City. After interviewing firefighters and community members, the artists decided to incorporate the WTC artifact into their public art design.
Completed in 2015, Gateway of Service stands at the entrance of Fire Station 92. Two pillars made from a 15-ton I-beam and concrete component of the WTC’s parking garage create a visual echo of the Twin Towers. Blue stainless-steel arches spring out of the tops of the pillars, evoking streams of water from a firehose and forming a contemporary canopy over the walkway to the fire station entrance.
The installation intends to serve as a source of community conversation and tribute, rather than a memorial, to honor community safety professionals and the more than 300 New York firefighters who gave their lives to save others on September 11, 2001.
Of his approach to his work, Sisko said:
“I strive to integrate as much of the history and relevant aspects of a culture as possible into every image I create, and I place utmost value on the input from communities where my commissions are installed because communities determine which images are important and defining for their culture. Though I am a sculptor, my images are not static representations of a slice of time; they take on an ongoing narrative that connects observers to the past, present, and future in timeless fashion. . . The sculpture will act like a gateway, like a frame for how we look at September 11.”
Artists: John Sisko and Jim Brown
Medium: World Trade Center artifact (steel, concrete) and stainless steel
Acquisition: City of Mercer Island 1% for Art in Public Places Fund
John Sisko (1958-2016) was an artist, teacher, and mentor. He focused on figurative sculptures, mainly of humans and animals, and his sculptures often displayed intellectual, spiritual, or philosophical themes. Sisko spent his early years in Montana and moved to suburban Seattle at age 13. He studied art at Western Washington University in Bellingham and eventually earned a Bachelor of Art in philosophy in 1987 from the University of Washington in Seattle. He taught at Seattle University, Gage Academy in Seattle, and Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. Sisko made more than 110 limited-edition bronzes and 16 commissioned projects as well as participated in over 45 exhibitions across the United States.
Jim Brown is the founding architect of URBANADD Architects and has more than 30 years of design and construction experience, working on prominent civic projects of all sizes and degrees of complexity. His work on the award-winning Seattle Public Library (completed 2006) set the new standard for innovative construction techniques.
Sisko and Brown were friends for more than 20 years at the time they installed Gateway of Service and worked together on many other projects, including the Sisko Gallery in Seattle and a public art project for the City of Renton.
The City of Mercer Island received formal custodianship of one of the last artifacts from the World Trade Center (WTC), salvaged from the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Shipping the concrete and steel artifact was one of the most challenging details to coordinate because of the cross-country trip. It was transported across the country via semi-trailer and stopped at other fire stations along the way to commemorate the occasion, which was documented in newspapers throughout the trip.
Mercer Island Firefighters met the artifact at the Washington State line and escorted it across I-90 to Mercer Island, where it was greeted by firefighters in full uniform, an honor guard, and pipes and drums. The caravan traveled beneath a large flag draped across 78th Ave SE using two ladder trucks. Firefighters, City staff and Councilmembers, and the community dedicated the artifact at a brief ceremony on June 26, 2014.