Fremont, the self-proclaimed Center of the Universe, is about to get a glowing Saturn complete with rings. The planet will be mounted atop a building in the heart of a neighborhood known for quirky art and free spirits.
“It came to me in a vision,” said Brian Regan, a Seattle developer who admits to spending a large part of his hippy youth in Fremont.
“The Center of the Universe needs a gravitational pull. People near the planet will feel the radiation of good vibes.”
Regan has asked the city for permission to install the fiberglass Saturn on his five-story commercial building at North 35th Street and Evanston Avenue North.
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The building is across the street from another iconic landmark, the Fremont rocket. It’s a block southwest of the statue of Lenin, and two blocks from the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture and the clowning J.P. Patches and Gertrude life-size bronzes. A block southwest are the dinosaur topiaries. The giant troll, with a Volkswagen Beetle in its clutch, crouches beneath the Aurora Bridge a quarter mile away.
“This is how Fremont entertains itself,” said Suzie Burke, a neighborhood businesswoman. “There’s a neon
sputnik floating around here somewhere. We may put it on top of our building.”
Saturn will float 65 feet above the sidewalk, attached to Regan’s building by a big steel column.
Tilted at an angle, the planet will extend slightly over the sidewalk, 12 feet in diameter with rings 24 feet across. The entire sculpture will be fabricated by the Tacoma firm B&B Aircraft and cost about $25,000.
Regan hopes it will be installed in time for the annual Fremont Solstice parade in June.
Solar panels in the rings will collect energy during the day. At night, the planet will glow and the rings will be illuminated by an outline of lights.
Saturn can even glow in different colors, Regan said, such as pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In its letter of support, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce said the planet will be “a great addition to our neighborhood and our style here in Fremont.”
The planet was inspired, in part, by the building’s proximity to the Fremont rocket, affixed to the corner of the building across the street.
The rocket was acquired in the early ’90s, shortly after Fremont declared itself the Center of the Universe and civic leaders set about finding a “suitably unique landmark monument,” according to Jon Hegeman, founder of the Fremont Sunday Market and noted Fremont mythologist.
The rocket originally was going to be aimed at Seattle City Hall, a few miles south, but the first attempts to install it atop a building failed.
Hegeman remembers that one of the female co-conspirators threatened to call then-newspaper columnist Jean Godden to report that “a bunch of middle-aged men in Fremont can’t get it up.”
Godden, now a City Council member, was one of three transportation-committee members to give the Saturn sculpture preliminary approval earlier this week. Final council approval probably will come in another month.
“I’m concerned that they don’t have enough artwork,” Godden said, tongue-in-cheek. “At some point, they may want to add a sun or a star.”
Indeed, there are three large orbs dangling outside a FedEx store on another
Fremont corner, but Regan explains that those planets are from another galaxy, not our own.
The Lenin sculpture was the most controversial of Fremont’s artwork because of its associations with Communism.
So far, the planet has been less problematic.
“No one objects to Saturn,” Regan said.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has recommended that the City Council approve the planet installation. Regan says an entire cosmos might spring up in the city.
“SDOT was so charmed by the idea they’re going to require all new buildings to have planets,” he joked.
Lynn Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8305.