Under the Bridge

The Fremont Troll is 28 years old, 18 feet tall, and lurks beneath the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. It was Steve Badanes ’65 who put it there. Now the Howard S. Wright Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington, Badanes had designed the troll with a few of his students as part of an art competition aimed at rehabilitating an area that had fallen into disuse. While his 40-plus-year career has included many award-winning projects, it is the concrete and rebar colossus clutching an abandoned Volkswagen Beetle that Badanes says is his best-known project and the one that has made the most people happy. “Trolls’ worst enemies are development and pollution,” Badanes said during a visit to Wesleyan to discuss his work this fall. “They’re very peaceful unless aroused, and that’s the statement we’re supposedly making with this piece.” Today, Badanes directs the Howard S. Wright Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, where students tackle community projects for Seattle-area nonprofit groups. Wesleyan named him a distinguished alumnus in 1990.

Below is an excerpt from the talk Badanes gave at Wesleyan this year.

Photo by Steve Badanes ’65