Ten-ton ice cube melting in Seattle park

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

64 blocks of ice were used to construct the cube.
Image: Dennis Bratland.

A cube of ice, weighing about ten tons (about 9000 kg) and measuring 80 inches (2m) per side, is melting in Seattle, Washington's Occidental Park. The temporary art installation, set up yesterday morning, "showcases the stages of the natural water cycle as the ice shifts from opaque to translucent", the artists said.

How long it will take to melt is uncertain.
Image: Dennis Bratland.
The cube is 80 inches tall and weighs 10 tonnes.
Image: Dennis Bratland.

The project is part of the Seattle Design Festival, and was designed by Olson Kundig Architects' Clay Anderson, Noah Conlay, Jarri Hasnain, Gregory Nakata, and Mark Olthoff. Crews began assembling blocks yesterday morning and had stacked all 64 blocks in place by 8:00 am.

The Grand Gallery on opening day
The cube drew tourists, workers at lunch, and photographers. Image: Dennis Bratland
The Grand Gallery on opening day
The cube drew tourists, workers at lunch, and photographers. Image: Dennis Bratland
The Grand Gallery on opening day
The cube drew tourists, workers at lunch, and photographers. Image: Dennis Bratland


It is not certain how long the 64 blocks of ice that make up the cube will take to melt, and discovering how the process unfolds is part of the intent. Olson Kundig contacted University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass to try to estimate the time it would take to melt, which Mass called "not a trivial calculation". He said the variables included how much sun warms the block, in turn dependent on cloud cover; condensation on the block's surface, thus variables like humidity, temperature, and wind; and heat conduction, both from the ground and from the surrounding air.

The installation inspired photographers at The Seattle Times, and under the hashtag #ok_icecube at Instagram and Twitter.


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