9 Spaces 9 Trees, 1983, Reconceived 2007

Robert Irwin
(American, born 1928)

Location: University of Washington, Seattle


Robert Irwin's 9 Spaces 9 Trees was originally created for the rooftop plaza of the City of Seattle's Public Safety Building in 1983. After construction and plans for a re-design of the site required the artwork's permanent removal, it was re-conceived by the artist for the University of Washington campus in 2003.

Irwin created the artwork's maze-like format to define nine gathering spaces. As light passes through the installation's fence walls, a sense of movement and rippled patterns are created. The nine gathering spaces can feel comforting and personal, or a little claustrophobic – they have layers of meaning. Depending on your angle to the fence walls, you see them as either see-through or semi-solid. The trees are lush and full of leaves in the spring and summer, and bare and open in the fall and winter. 9 Spaces 9 Trees creates spaces that are both private and public.

This artwork was acquired for the State Art Collection in partnership with University of Washington.


San Diego-based artist Robert Irwin creates site-specific installations and landscape projects that push the boundaries of art and perception. Irwin began his career as a painter, evolving into an installation artist through his involvement with the West Coast Light and Space movement. He describes his work as “conditional,” not only altering the environment, but also leaving space for the environment to alter the experience of the art.
Irwin studied at the Otis Art Institute, Jepson Art Institute, and Chouinard Art Institute, all in Los Angeles, California. He taught at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Material CategorySculpture - landscapes
MediumConcrete, vinyl-coated steel, weathering steel, aluminum, Ipe wood, and Winterking Hawthorne trees
Dimensions20 ft x 54 ft x 54 ft
ID NumberWSAC2003.074.000
Acquisition MethodSite responsive commission
Artist LocationCalifornia, United States
Location Information
AgencyUniversity of Washington
Artwork LocationUniversity of Washington
East of the Henry Art Gallery, near the Odegaard Undergraduate Library (OUG) (near 4060 George Washington Lane NE, Seattle)
WA CountyKing
Site TypeUniversity
Address15th Ave. NE, between NE Pacific St. and NE 45th St.
Seattle, WA 98195
Geo. Coordinates47.656462, -122.311102
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