Miller Hull

Beyond the Reach

In Defense of Elliot Bay's Littoral Ecology
Developing new ways to celebrate, protect, and raise awareness around native marine ecology.

Beyond the Reach: In Defense of Elliot Bay's Littoral Ecology

Elliott Bay has been an anchor for urban development in Seattle and serves as a fundamental community component. Beyond the Reach develops new ways to celebrate, protect, and raise awareness around native marine ecology.

Beyond the Reach is a series of shoreline interventions connected by urban trails, establishing a holistic encounter with Elliott Bay marine and shoreline ecology. This proposal reveals the symbiotic relationship between humans and water—a true biophilic re-imagining of our connection to the natural world. It provides an alternative way to experience marine ecology. Traditionally, we experience bodies of water on the surface: a plane that visually and physically separates our world from the marine environment hidden below.

Located in the Puget Sound, Elliott Bay is divided into nine shoreline conditions, known as “reaches”. Each reach contains a unique littoral zone, where a body of water meets land.

Of these reaches, three have been studied for this proposal.

Alki Boardwalk

At Alki Beach, a shallow tidal pool restrained by a man-made reef and a transparent levee of structural glass blocks capped by a concrete pedestrian promenade is the first intervention. The glass block wall forms a structurally efficient levee through the shape of a semi-circle. The contours within the levee curve slope down to the base of the wall, allowing views through the glass into the natural tidal pool and the sea life it supports. The reef, built of uncut limestone for its light color, acts as a barrier to surf forces and a habitat for sea life. The tidal pool’s ecoculture is replenished with fresh seawater with each new tide.

Myrtle Edwards Park

A narrow 5-foot-wide occupiable jetty into Elliott Bay is set 90 degrees from Myrtle Edwards park, scaled for an individual experience with the bay’s marine ecology and the second intervention. Set between parallel walls of textured structural glass block, a ramp follows the shore’s sloping terrain, ending at a transparent glass wall. The point of termination is topped by a periscope tower that drives light into the space, mirroring the sky above. Over time, the artificial jetty will prevent erosion while providing a habitat for bay salmon and local marine life.

Discovery Park

Referencing the adjacent cylindrical forms of the nearby West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, the third intervention located at Discovery Park creates a 100-foot-diameter water cleansing instrument, demonstrating future marine technology that can support local ecology. Visitors are invited to descend into the cavernous form, away from the bay’s surface, to a view into the cleansed and refreshed seawater.