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Originally published April 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 4, 2008 at 12:35 PM

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Sculptor envisions colorful steel birds for Capitol Hill subway station

Take a pair of used fighter jets. Slice each fuselage and the wings into cross-sections. Paint the segments a soothing pinkish-orange. Rearrange the slices so...

Seattle Times transportation reporter

Take a pair of used fighter jets. Slice each fuselage and the wings into cross-sections. Paint the segments a soothing pinkish-orange. Rearrange the slices so that each plane curves, like a heron taking flight.

That's the vision of Mike Ross, the public-art sculptor for Sound Transit's future underground station at Capitol Hill. His steel birds, one facing north and one facing south, would appear to kiss each other. They would lurk among huge crossbeams, over the train platforms. "Because I started with such aggressive symbols, I arranged them in a nonaggressive way," he said Thursday. A New Yorker, he was inspired by Seattle's natural setting and aviation history, but wanted bright colors to offset the region's perpetually gray skies.

The concept recalls his famed "Big Rig Jig," a curvy duet of sliced semi trucks that Ross built in the Nevada desert last year for the Burning Man festival.

The Seattle sculpture would explore the relationship between nature and technology, war and peace, strength and fragility. "It asks a lot of people," he said. Ross said he hopes children will enjoy the playful shape.

Riders would see multiple perspectives when they descend the station escalators. Near the surface only a few fragments appear, but the whole piece would be visible from the boarding area, 65 feet deep.

The $550,000 sculpture at the station, near Broadway at John Street, would be part of a three-mile, $1.8 billion subway from downtown to Husky Stadium, to open in late 2016.

Sound Transit staffers say they are pleased with the design; the final decision to fund the sculpture rests with the agency's board of directors.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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