The Garden of Surging Waves is designed to be an interpretive space with emphasis on the themes of transition, values and Chinese design principles.
The Garden's design reflects the cultural transitions and adaptations that early immigrants faced on their arrival in the United States. This theme is carried out through juxtaposition of various elements. The Moon Gate entrance, for example, is not aligned with the Pavilion of Transition; the path through the Pavilion is shifted in the center; and the new timbers of the Pavilion are interpreted from traditional, old wood brackets. Color contrasts are also in play, from the green and black colors of the bronze statue at the Platform of Heritage, to the orange and black hues of the Entry Story Screen.
The Garden's design embraces Chinese values of education, family, authenticity and resourcefulness.
There are quotes from Confucius and Lao Zi, as well as a 13th century nursery rhyme that reflect traditional Chinese philosophies.
The Garden itself is intended to “age in-place,” evolving aesthetically over time. The inscribed Bronze Scrolls, for example, will be weathered by a dripline from the oxidized Entry Story Screen above them. The Garden uses minimal artificial materials, and no caulk or paint.
Various construction materials were selected specifically to pay homage to the hard work of Astoria's Chinese, including rails embedded in the plaza honoring Chinese railroad laborers, and elongated concrete pavers representing the wood plank floors of the canneries where many of Astoria's Chinese worked.
Existing site conditions factored into the spatial organization of the Garden as well, with consideration paid to the presence of the American Legion Building and to the collapsed floor near the center of the Legion Block where a grocery once stood.
The Garden of Surging Waves incorporates symbols from Chinese culture as part of its design. A few of these symbols include:
- The logo for the Garden, that features a surging wave and full moon in the center, surrounded by a moon gate. Mr. Huo, whose company created much of the garden's artwork, interprets the logo as a yin yang fish chasing a pearl.
- The name “Garden of Surging Waves,” with reference to the famous Surging Waves Pavilion located in a classical Chinese Garden in Suzhou, China.
- The eight hand-carved dragon columns surrounding the Pavilion of Transition platform, and a ninth dragon that is part of the bronze statue at the Platform of Heritage. Nine is an auspicious number in Chinese culture.
- The floor of the Pavilion of Transition, that includes three mosaic sturgeons encircled by a ring of stainless steel, representing the opening of a can.
- Salmon, depicted by colored translucent panels suspended from the Pavilion's roof framework.
- Use of local materials for their properties, such as basalt for strength; or for their reference to local industry, such as timber.
- Use of the 9-square grid, which is a fundamental organizing system of Chinese architecture.
Learn more about the the artwork for the Garden of Surging Waves.