Construction Story - Jessica Morgan & Bob Sundstrom

The Photo Walls of the 1500 Jefferson building chronicle two years in the life of the Wheeler Project, from groundbreaking to completion. Wheeler Project was the working title of the development and construction that would create what was initially called the Washington State Data Center and Office Building.

This story, told in photographic images and brief text, was the joint creative effort of Jessica Morgan and Bob Sundstrom. Jessica’s photos and artistic design are interwoven with Bob’s writing to evoke the transformation of a bare plot of earth through many stages toward the elegant structure that now stands at 1500 Jefferson Street SE in Olympia, WA. The chronicle bears witness to the enormous undertaking of such a large and complex project. The images not only follow the course of construction, but evoke the aesthetics of color, form, pattern and landscape that emerged.

The project grew from the intricate collaboration of hundreds of people. Bob interviewed at length twelve people who were closely involved with the Wheeler Project, and quotations taken from the interviews are interspersed among the images along the Photo Walls. Their words illustrate how many different perspectives come to bear in driving such a remarkable effort.

Jessica Morgan – Photography
The following describes what Jessica loves about taking photographs of construction: “A construction site makes no effort to be ‘beautiful’ – it’s just about what functions well. I am always intrigued when I see through my camera lens that an ‘ordinary’ scene has taken on a mood or other-worldly ‘presence,’ or when a random juxtaposition of boards and tools has become a satisfying pattern.”

Born in New Jersey and raised in several Western states, she attended the University of Maryland to earn Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees in Studio Art. While her paid work has been as a marketer in publishing, industrial fabrics and government, she has always continued to learn about and create art using various media.

In her role in the Communications Department of the Washington State Department of Information Services (DIS), Jessica was asked to take regular photographs of the construction of the Washington State Data Center and Office Building. Watching the continuing metamorphosis, she found inspiration in a book of Joe Deal’s photographs (taken over 10 years) of the construction of the Getty Center in California.

Bob Sundstrom – Story Text
Bob Sundstrom is lead writer for the radio program BirdNote ( heard daily on more than 100 radio stations around the country. He has done a variety of professional writing, including co-authoring The National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Bob divides his time between writing and work as a professional naturalist. For more than two decades he has designed and led trips on six continents for prominent ecotour company, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours ( He earned a doctorate in anthropology at the University of Washington.