The Miller Hull Partnership expands Seattle’s Pike Place Market

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A steel and glass canopy shelters new craft and farm stalls. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

A steel and glass canopy shelters new craft and farm stalls. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

Work is underway on MarketFront, a multi-level extension of Seattle’s Pike Place Market designed by The Miller Hull Partnership. The project broke ground in late June after an extensive community and city process. At stake is the question: How do you create an addition for an icon?

The answer: Carefully.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” noted architect David Miller, a founding partner of The Miller Hull Partnership and lead designer on the project. “We’ve listened to the client and to the people who live and work in the community. Twenty to thirty people would come to every public meeting and ask good questions. The group was strongly opinionated, but also very smart and artistic.”

Once the Alaskan Way Viaduct is removed in 2016, MarketFront's terraces will connect to waterfront. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

Once the Alaskan Way Viaduct is removed in 2016, MarketFront’s terraces will connect to waterfront. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

Pike Place Market is more than simply a spot where some ten million tourists come each year to watch fishmongers gracefully toss salmon, it’s a historic site that survived urban renewal and as one of the oldest, continually operated farmer’s markets in the country, it is home to dozens and dozens of local vendors and artisans. It’s critical that Miller and team preserve the character of the market as they weave a new structure into a context of converted warehouse buildings on one side and the soon-to-be-demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct on the other.

The cascade of outdoor spaces from Western to the waterfront fits into the Seattle urban fabric. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

The cascade of outdoor spaces from Western to the waterfront fits into the Seattle urban fabric. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

The design maintains the language of the older buildings through utilitarian materials—wood, steel, and concrete—that echo the industrial architecture. “It is really a utilitarian, no frills structure,” explained Miller.

With that simple pallette, The Miller Hull Partnership added 47 new daystalls for farmers and craft artists, new retail space for a brewery and brew pub (including grain silos), and 40 affordable housing units for seniors, some with outdoor space for them to set up their own stalls. The scheme also includes social services—low-income day care, a food bank, and medical services—and parking for cars and bikes.

The $73-million dollar project is located along Western Avenue, the street just behind the famous portion of the existing market topped with bright red letters. A two-story structure that is more landscape than building, it occupies the site of the former Municipal Market Building, which was torn down in 1974 after a fire.

The terrace zig-zags down from the market, leading to retail spaces and public plazas. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

The terrace zig-zags down from the market, leading to retail spaces and public plazas. (The Miller Hull Partnership)

The new building features an expansive roof deck that offers and preserves views of Elliot Bay and the waterfront. Reached via Pike Place Market’s Desimone Bridge or stairs leading up one story from the street, the deck is part of a 30,000-square-foot public space that terraces down from Western Avenue to the Viaduct—a drop of roughly 85 feet. Once that roadway is removed, the MarketFront will serve as a pedestrian connection to the Seattle waterfront designed by James Corner Field Operations, which will stretch along Elliot Bay from Seattle’s Pioneer Square to Belltown.

“The Pacific Northwest has this great environment that allows for connecting to the outdoors,” said Miller. “Even though it is in the middle of the city, it is a blend of landscape and architecture.”

The project is scheduled to open prior to the final demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2016.

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