Interesting New Dome Structure at Westlake Park

A 40-foot igloo-like structure will be unveiled at Westlake Park this month, but what exactly is it?

By Seattle Mag

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September 21, 2015

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

You never know what you’ll find at Westlake Park—a protest, a preacher, a person you wish would stop playing bagpipes. Even with recent splashy improvements, it’s a two-block petri dish swabbed with disparate strains of human culture. This month, add to the urban science experiment a 40-foot-tall geodesic-dome theater, courtesy of Portland’s Umpqua Bank.

Called “Exhibit:Growth,” what looks like a new-age igloo is intended to deliver a transformative emotional journey to the masses. Once inside the dome, participants enter a dark booth equipped with a video screen and Microsoft Kinect technology. Trippy, motion-activated visuals—swirling stars, shifting sand, billowy clouds and amoeba-like bulges—are supposed to represent negative emotions, including apathy, regret, confusion, fear and frustration (which happens to be a pretty solid inventory of feelings experienced while walking through Westlake Park).

But inside the igloo, you can swing your arms and legs around to whoosh away the pain. Out, out, apathy amoeba! Soon a glowing seed of inspiration appears on the screen and sprouts into a tree, which you can embellish with the power of your swooping limbs and positive attitude. Somehow, all of this is related to banking. But mostly, it’s a cool use of Kinect, a lunch-hour novelty and a new way to get weird at Westlake. 9/25–10/24. Free. Westlake Park; umpquabank.com/exhibit