The GUM Wall

The GUM Wall

By: Sara Runge, Project Manager at DG2 Design Landscape Architecture

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) offers the following definition and application of the profession of landscape architecture:  “Landscape architecture is the profession which applies artistic and scientific principles to the research, planning, design and management of both natural and built environments.  Practitioners of this profession apply creative and technical skills and scientific, cultural, and political knowledge in the planned arrangement of natural and constructed elements on the land with a concern for the stewardship and conservation of natural, constructed and human resources.  The resulting environments shall serve useful, aesthetic, safe and enjoyable purposes.”

My daughter and I recently returned from a trip to Seattle and we always visit Pike Place Market for a few hours while we are in town; it’s a must on our to do list.  The outdoor market overlooking Elliott Bay is one of a kind and is different every ti
me we visit, from the shop vendors selling their wares, to the smells emanating out of eating establishments, to the weather; lucky for us it was sunny and fairly warm for early November.  We strolled leisurely through the market and proceeded to our next stop “The Gum Wall”.  If you have never seen the gum wall, it’s a sight to behold and if your imagination is running wild with what the gum wall might entail, it’s probably correct.  It’s a wall full of chewed up gum; fairly disgusting and one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions as reported by Wikipedia.  The wall is located in Post Alley below Pike Place and is considered a local landmark.  Instagram even has special tags if you take a picture there.  The brick wall has been cleaned a few times, but it’s soon covered up again with colorful, sometime artistic depictions of peace signs and smiley faces.

The gum wall just happened; it was not a designed space.  However, as I was looking through pictures of the wall, I couldn’t help but wonder if it could have been designed by a landscape architect:  it’s artistic, creative, natural (?), constructed by human resources, useful, safe (unless you decide to touch it), and definitely enjoyable to look at!!

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