Art and color in the Right of Way

How is art and color age-friendly?

Adding design elements to any project can make a difference between an age-friendly space and a space that is not more visually hostile. Art and color can be combined with any of the age-friendly design standards, amenities, or play and learning programming to further enhance the age-friendly tool.

Child looks at walrus sculpture outside of Smith & Burns in Wallingford

Where should art and color be prioritized?

Art and color can be incorporated throughout the right-of-way to bring moments in interest to pedestrians. Three dimensional objects must not block the pedestrian clear sidewalk space (See clearance standards). Places that are underutilized, for example, highway underpasses or alleys, can be livened up with art and color.  

Art and color could be used in many different elements with colors that would not be mistaken as regular traffic MUTCD sign colors.  In Seattle colors could be added to elements like:

  • Community Crosswalks
  • Along a building setback permitted by a homeowner or developer
  • Animate building facades and windows with murals, games, and other playful elements painted or attached to the wall
  • Playful designs for trash cans or bike racks
  • Staircases that are painted add whimsy and help to make a sometimes arduous climb joyful

Primary agencies invested in art and color in the right of way

  • Seattle Department of Transportation
  • Seattle Parks and Recreation
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • Seattle City Light
  • King County Metro
  • Sound Transit
  • Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections
  • Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development

Estimated cost*

$ and up

* Cost levels:
$ = Under $100,000
$$ = $100,001-$500,000
$$$ = $500,001-$1,000,000
$$$$= Over $1,000,001


Public space permitting
SDOT Art Plan


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.