Posts tagged with "Seattle":

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Seattle Public Radio Station KEXP’s new headquarters opens near the Space Needle

It was a bright spring day in Seattle’s lower Queen Anne neighborhood when nonprofit alt-rock radio station KEXP (90.3 FM) opened the doors of its new 25,000-square-foot digs designed by local firm SkB Architects. The new KEXP space—part of Seattle Center, a 74-acre park, arts, and entertainment area that includes the Space Needle—was packed for its soft opening. There was a hushed tone as English singer-songwriter-guitarist Robyn Hitchcock performed. He ended his set with the cheeky ode to Seattle, “Viva! Sea-Tac”—the first song KEXP played when staff moved into its new office in December 2015 after the phase one completion.

SkB designed the new KEXP headquarters in a structure originally built as an exhibition hall for the 1962 World’s Fair with tech and studio designer Walters-Storyk Design Group. It includes on-air studios, DJ booths, production rooms, staff offices, and more—KEXP expects to continue to host over 500 in-studio performances each year, which the public can now view live from an adjacent room that can hold up to 75 people. The new KEXP also houses a 4,500-square-foot public community space with a coffee shop and showroom.

“We wanted to bring the outside in,” said Shannon Gaffney, SkB cofounder and co-lead designer on the project. Circulation was a challenge and required striking the right balance between openness and decompression, public and private. Gaffney explained, “It was like a puzzle.”

KEXP builds on the growing trend of public-private collaboration—where privately owned space (or privately-publicly owned space, as with KEXP’s new home) is open to and used by the public. In St. Louis, for instance, the independent community radio station KDHX operates out of the Larry J. Weir Center for Independent Media, with a ground floor venue space that can hold up to 140 people.

The public gathering space is open and light-filled, pulling together exposed silver and white ductwork with turquoise accents, low-key stenciled concrete floors, and roll-up garage doors. It’s an effect that transforms the area into an indoor plaza and public extension of the courtyard to the east. Many of its materials were donated, said Gaffney. This includes the dark wood paneling, sourced from Puget Sound, that frames the glass-windowed DJ looking into the space. When not being used for live concerts, the gathering space converts into a lounge.

A key feature of the new HQ is KEXP’s 50,000-album music library. The library is non-circulating, but it embraces the public-private concept by being located at the most extroverted part of the KEXP site, hugging its southeast corner. There is large floor-to-ceiling UV-protective glazing, so albums are protected, but still visible from the street.

Back inside the public gathering space is a cafe, La Marzocco, which SkB designed with creative branding agency States of Matter. It is the Florentine-founded espresso machine manufacturer’s first cafe and showroom. Seattle company Mallet, Inc. built the cabinets locally. The colored-glass panels were made in Italy using traditional techniques, said Gaffney. Each month, the cafe features new roasters and a curated coffee menu.

By weaving together public-private elements in the new space, KEXP is able to connect more closely with its listeners while the public can hear (and watch) musicians, meet friends, study, have an espresso, and peek into the daily workings of an indie public radio station.

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Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles vie for tallest tower west of the Mississippi

The West Coast’s largest cities are reaching for the record books as a succession of towers vying for the mantle of the “tallest west of the Mississippi” go up across the region.

Los Angeles’s 1,018-foot-tall U.S. Bank Tower, a prismatic 1989 blue and white skyscraper designed by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, currently holds that title. However, developers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle are seeking to depose the U.S. Bank Tower—all three cities currently have high-rises in the works set to surpass the record. These projects, ranging from in design review to nearing completion, are unified by their record-breaking potential and densely urban locales. Each is sited in transit-oriented districts poised for radical redevelopment. Merely inching above the current record, the towers speak to West Coast cities’ cautious approach to reshaping their skylines, as contemporary considerations regarding the nature of density, regulation, preservation, and affordability begin to play out over these post-recession metropolises.

In Seattle, local firm LMN Architects has had to take its 1,111-foot-tall proposal for the 4/C Tower from Miami developer Crescent Heights back to the drawing board several times, trimming the tower’s height with each iteration. A boxy, mixed-use monolith containing groups of mixed income “vertical neighborhoods” with neighborhood-specific common areas above office space, parking, and commercial zones, 4/C is unique among the group in its inclusion of an affordable housing component.

4/C has had to straddle a delicate line in terms of massing and geometry—it’s located across the street from Chester L. Lindsey Architects’ 76-story Columbia Center, currently Seattle’s tallest at 967 feet, and nearby Minoru Yamasaki’s iconic Rainier Tower. It was 4/C’s height, however that came under scrutiny earlier this year when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a report citing possible interference with medical helicopter flight paths and the navigable air space of the nearby King County International Airport. Although the FAA has mandated a 965-foot maximum height for the structure—a limit that would keep it just feet below the record—plans submitted early April, call for a 100-story, 1,029-foot tall structure containing up to 1,020 residential units and 100 hotel rooms above 20,000 square feet of street-level retail, 85,000 square feet of office, and 750 parking spaces.

700 miles to the south, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects’ (PCP) 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower is slowly rising out of San Francisco’s Transbay Center. The currently under-construction $4.5 billion transit center, touted by the managing Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” is topped by a PWP Landscape Architecture–designed 5.4-acre park. The six-track, multimodal hub will bring together the region’s tangled web of transit agencies and California’s future intercity high speed rail line. Its construction follows the demolition of the seismically deficient Embarcadero elevated highway that once ran along San Francisco’s waterfront. With the Embarcadero’s massive, swooping on- and off-ramps south of Market Street now gone, the city has been free to develop an area that was previously roughshod and derelict. Salesforce Tower is touted as the crown jewel of this new high-rise neighborhood.

PCP’s curved and tapering design, built in concert with the firm’s transit center, will contain 1.4 million square feet of Class-A office space and be topped by a 100-foot-tall “crown.” Billed to rise 1,070 feet upon completion in 2018, it will soar 217 feet above William Pereira’s 1972 Transamerica Pyramid, currently San Francisco’s tallest.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles’s Wilshire Grand Tower, a 1,099-foot-tall spire, topped out in March and is nearing completion. Aside from Gensler’s L.A. Live Ritz-Carlton Hotel built in 2010, the Wilshire Grand is to be the only other tower above 40 floors built in Downtown L.A. since Arthur Erickson Architects completed their 750-foot-tall Two California Plaza in 1992. A partnership between Korean Air, Turner Construction, and architects AC Martin, the tower will boast 400,000 square feet of Class-A office space and a 900-suite hotel, as well as a 400,000-square-foot retail podium with ballrooms, meeting halls, and a 1,250-spot parking garage. The 1,100-foot-tall Wilshire Grand is due to finish construction in late 2017, when it will become the tallest tower west of the Mississippi River.

While the jury is still out as to whether Seattle’s 4/C Tower’s Crescent Heights will prevail, a trend is becoming clear: Developers are testing the waters and envisioning tall, mixed use, transit-oriented futures for the West’s downtowns.

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A new facility unites Seattle’s architecture and design organizations under one roof

For the first time in Seattle history, four architecture and design associations have come together under one roof as the Center for Architecture and Design. While the four organizations—AIA Seattle, Seattle Architecture Foundation, AIA Washington Council, and Design in Public—are still operating independently, they are sharing office, exhibit, and community meeting spaces in a renovated storefront space downtown, close to Pioneer Square. Local Seattle firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi Architects led the design.

One challenge was finding the right sized space that was also walkable and within an appropriate price range. After looking at multiple possibilities, the Center settled on a ground floor space in the 1905 brick National Building. The 4,500-square-foot Center rests on the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Spring Street—just a couple blocks from the waterfront. The space stood empty for a long time. At one point it housed an Italian restaurant owned by former Seattle mayor Paul Schell.

The Center is not the first storefront space for AIA Seattle. In fact, AIA Seattle was the first AIA chapter in the U.S. to take a storefront space, said executive director Lisa Richmond. Before the move to the Center, AIA Seattle operated out of a street level office on 1st Avenue near Pike Place Market for over thirty years. Later, Design in Public, an AIA Seattle strategic initiative founded in 2011, started working in their office too. By then, the 1,900-square-foot space was getting cramped. (A high-end cigar shop is expected to move into that space soon.)

For the Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF) a move was imminent, as the building that housed their old office downtown—Rainier Square—will soon be demolished to make way for a close to 60-story boot-shaped tower designed by NBBJ. (Full disclosure: I volunteer at SAF.) The University of Washington owns the land under Rainier Square and is developing the project. The curved shape of the planned tower is expected to help preserve views and sight lines of the neighboring 1977 Minoru Yamasaki Rainier Tower—the downtown Seattle building famous for its inverted pyramid base. (Should the big earthquake hit, some say Rainier Tower may be one of the most stable buildings, due to a lower than normal center of gravity).

The fourth organization, AIA Washington Council, had the farthest move, relocating from Olympia, the Washington State capitol.

“We’re really excited to be part of this project. It’s an opportunity to connect with the public more,” said Stacy Segal, executive director of SAF. The Center hopes their professional and public shared home will help facilitate greater collaboration and dialogue between designers and the public. Seventy percent of the Center is open to the public.

The program allows for a mix of uses. There are gallery spaces at the front, a multi-purpose homasote-paneled meeting room with pivoting panels for flexibility and soundproofing, a smaller conference room, an office area with large desks, a kitchen and work area, and more. Suyama Peterson Deguchi provided pro bono services. Their major design goals were many: to get the public excited about design, allow for ample spaces to feature rotating displays, to celebrate existing materials found in the historic building (aged wood and concrete slabs), to maximize natural lighting, and most challenging, flexibility.

“We also wanted to have the least possible disruption to the wonderful heavy timber column and ceiling structure and still provide for the complex program,” explained Ric Peterson, a partner at Suyama Peterson Deguchi. “Instead of dividing the space, the new parts are fashioned as flexible elements within the entire space.” 

Over the next ten years, the Center expects to grow incrementally and hopes to attract and connect not just built environment professionals, but also designers in other fields, policy makers, and the general public.

The Center relied on $1.2 million in cash and in-kind donations from a mix of corporate, individual, and foundation support.

The grand opening was the first week of March, and the Center is hosting its third exhibition April 21–June 25. Living Small: Ideas for Living in the City looks at the impact of urban growth and density on micro-housing.

In its programming, the Center is integrating more design disciplines outside of architecture that are exploring urban issues. “Seattle is a little below the radar,” said Richmond. “We want the public see the very significant and important role good design plays in our economy and our city.” 

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Olson Kundig is designing a new home for the Burke Museum

The oldest state museum in Washington state—the Burke Museum at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle’s U District—will get a new home slated to open in 2019. Seattle-based Olson Kundig is designing the new building for the museum that centers on natural history and culture. Construction started last week on the new museum at 15th Avenue NE. The site neighbors the existing museum building at NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE. The new museum design opens up and unites the collection galleries, labs, research, education, and storage areas. The 113,000 square foot building will have 60% more space—breathing room for the over 16 million scientific and cultural objects from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Olson Kundig's design weaves in Northwest elements, such as wood siding and a shed-style roof. “The University of Washington and Burke Museum were incredibly important to me during my student life, and the Burke was a place for me to engage with and connect to our rich local history and tradition of innovation,” Tom Kundig, Principal and Owner of Olson Kundig, said in a statement. The museum has called many different places home. In 1879 a group of Seattle naturalists started collecting historical and scientific objects. They hosted them at the University of Washington, when the university was downtown at University Street and Fourth Avenue (what is now part of the Metropolitan Tract owned by the University). Then in 1899, the Washington state legislature designated the museum an official state museum. The Burke later moved to northeast Seattle, finally settling in the current space at NE 45th Street in 1962. “The new facility will allow us to take science and cultural education to the next level by connecting students with the scientists and researchers at the Burke—role models who will inspire the next generation,” said Frank Chopp (who, incidentally, designed and built these two urban cabins with his father in Seattle's Central District), Washington State Speaker of the House (43rd LD) in a statement. Over the years, remodeling the Burke building became less financially feasible. Storage space was tight and lacked climate-control protections. The old museum will be demolished once move-in is complete to make way for the landscape design and parking. Demolition includes the Burke Café. A conservator will remove the cafe's circa 1720s wood paneling. The new Burke will display a portion of the paneling. Another local Seattle firm is leading the landscape design. Guthrie Gustafson Nichol (GGN) is creating the courtyard and entryway filled with native plant species. Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center in Carnation is growing the close to 70,000 native plants needed for the project. For every two trees removed, the design will add three trees. The University of Washington and Burke officials hope to reuse some of the wood in the construction. “The landscape of the New Burke is designed to be as multifaceted and welcoming as the museum,” said Shannon Nichol, GGN founding principal in a statement. “It will serve as a new campus quad, a colorful garden experience, and a living emblem of our state’s natural heritage.” The project budget is $99 million with the majority of funding coming from Washington State, with additional support from private gifts, University of Washington, as well as in-kind donations.
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Seattle’s City Light facility in the running for landmark status

The Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) in Seattle has nominated the former Seattle City Light Power Control Center, located at 157 Roy Street on Lower Queen Anne, to become a city landmark. Designed by architecture firm Harmon, Pray & Detrich in 1962, and completed the following year, the building, which is now a homeless shelter, echoes the modernist styling of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, practiced in the Pacific Northwest by the likes of Paul Thiry and Pietro Belluschi.
The application to the LPB, compiled by The Queen Anne Historical Society and its President Michael J. Herschensohn, argues that the building's significance ties in with Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition held in 1962. It also adds that the "Power Control Center reflects the futuristic enthusiasm of the fair that survives today in two designated city landmarks, the Space Needle by John Graham and Victor Steinbreuck and Minoru Yamasaki’s Pacific Science Center."
"The creative and unusual pairing of eight and six-sided forms is a noteworthy feature of the Power Control Center which is not only an exceptional example of the modern movement, but also of the unique blend of European and American design traditions that flows from Louis Sullivan to Frank Lloyd Wright and which is clearly seen in the work of Bruce Goff such as the Japanese Pavilion at LACMA and other Southern California mid-century architects," the application says. While using concrete massing synonymous with the European modernist movement, the former Control Center, in the eyes of Herschensohn also represents "the efforts of American designers to break free of European design and create a uniquely American vocabulary." The board voted unanimously in a 10-0 majority to put forward the site, exterior and interior of the building for landmark status meanwhile, another meeting is set to be held on June 15. "The Power Control Center and its site much like Le Corbusier’s 1929 Villa Savoye and his Cité de Soleil in Marseilles integrate the requirements of the automobile age by including parking under the building between the pilotis supporting the office segment of the center."
 
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WA State Convention Center expansion developing even as lawsuit looms

Design plans are moving ahead on the convention center expansion in downtown Seattle with a design recommendation meeting scheduled for May 3rd. The Washington State Convention Center—which runs over Interstate 5 and holds large annual regional events like the February northwest garden show and the Emerald City ComiCon—opened in the spring of 1988. The just under 415,000 square foot center has reached capacity and has hired LMN Architects to add 440,000 square feet of convention space, 5 stories above ground, with underground parking (anywhere from 600-800 vehicles). The site for the expansion is about a block northeast at 1601 9th Avenue, what is currently the Convention Place bus station that routes buses through a bus tunnel. With more light rail coming in the near future and slated to use the bus tunnel, the city will make all buses run on the street by 2021. The convention center expansion plan requires demolishing the station. The project is part of what the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections is describing as a “planned community development component.” In 2014, the convention center also bought property on two additional blocks, with plans for mixed-use projects on each. There’s a proposal for a 29 story building with 6,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and 438 residences at 920 Olive Way (currently hosting two restaurants, a two story light rail transit facility, and parking lots). There’s also a planned 16 story office building on top of 11,000 square feet of commercial space at 1711 Boren Avenue (right now it’s a Honda dealership and car lot). Such a massive project is not without legal battles, however. The proposed construction timeline is on hold. Skanska and Hunt Construction, the hired contractor team, sued the convention center this March after the center dropped them from the project (reportedly to search for a cheaper firm). Earlier this April, the King County Superior Court issued a ruling: “King County Judge Beth Andrus on Wednesday denied Skanska-Hunt’s bid to be reinstated as the contractor, but granted the request to stop the convention center from starting to select a new contractor,” wrote the Seattle Times. “The question of whether the convention-center authority wrongly terminated Skanska-Hunt should be decided in a trial, beginning within 120 days, the judge ruled.” The total cost of the convention center project is estimated at $1.4 billion, with construction at $750 million. If the project moves beyond the lawsuit and finds a builder without delay, breaking ground could start early 2017, with an opening in 2020. On a side note, back in the fall of 2015, a Seattle firm proposed to cap a section of I-5 with a 2 mile long park that would run near the convention center expansion. At the moment, the project is just conceptual, but it would not be out of place close to Lawrence Halprin’s 1976 5.5 acre Freeway Park.
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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson reveals design for major commercial project on Puget Sound

Early this March, online travel giant Expedia released a first batch of renderings of its new campus. The company, founded in Redmond, Washington, in 1996, and now headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, has grand plans to move close to downtown Seattle on a site overlooking Puget Sound.

The company hired Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), of Seattle, to lead the design. BCJ is working on a new four-story, 600,000-square-foot building and has plans to renovate four existing buildings—once laboratories for the biopharmaceutical company Amgen—into open-style office spaces. Expedia bought the 40-acre Amgen property last spring for $229 million.

The images reveal lots of glass and green. Details are reminiscent of major West Coast tech campuses: There are hints of Apple’s curves and courtyard, along with Google’s openness. For Expedia, BCJ collaborated with PWP Landscape Architecture, campus landscape architects on projects for LinkedIn, Pixar, IBM, and Boeing. Expedia’s campus will connect to the Elliott Bay Trail—a biking, running, and walking path that links Ballard and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

If all goes as planned, construction on the first phase will start late this year, with a target move-in date of 2019. The new and renovated spaces from this phase will total 1.2 million square feet. There are two more phases under development, which could include a total of 730,000 square feet of office space, built over 15 years. The final cost of the project has not yet been set. 

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Microsoft HoloLens partners with the first holographic real estate leasing center

The new holographic headset by Microsoft, HoloLens, has just started shipping to U.S. and Canadian developers last week for $3,000 (the consumer version release date is still unannounced). Now we hear the tech company giant is partnering with global real estate developer Skanska to create the first leasing center in the world using holographic technology. No word yet on the leasing center’s location, but the space is expected to open this June. The center is slated to help sell Skanska’s proposed and unbuilt project, 2+U, a downtown Seattle high rise planned between First and Second Avenues and Seneca and University Streets, with expected completion early 2019. Seattle-based digital production agency Studio 216, which specializes in real estate virtual and mixed-reality visualizations, is partnering with Microsoft and Skanska on the 2+U project. Unlike other virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift (which Facebook's acquired for $2 billion), HoloLens is untethered, and incorporates a more “mixed reality” or an “artificial reality” setup: users can still be present and aware of the space they are in and other people around them. Holograms are “projected” onto real objects in space. “Developing for Hololens is similar to developing for VR headsets, but you have to ask yourself different questions,” said Kyle Riesenbeck, Technical Lead for the 2+U Holographic project in a press release. “With VR, you have to create both the environment and the content, but with Hololens, the challenge is determining the best way to have your content interact with your existing world, and enhance your real life experience in a unique and necessary way.” According to Microsoft’s website, the device features sensors, a processing unit, special high-def color lenses, and built-in speakers. Microsoft is also collaborating with Lowe’s, the home improvement company, to help customers visualize new kitchen or living layouts, finishes, and more. Since we are on the topic of holograms, enjoy this YouTube video of the Seattle skyline, featuring a different type of holographic technology.
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$50 Billion transportation plan in Seattle could add 108 miles of rail

Recently, a new $1.8 billion 3 mile light rail extension running from downtown north to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington opened in Seattle. And now there’s a new transportation proposal for the Emerald City and beyond. Last week, Sound Transit, the public light and commuter rail system (and rapid bus system) operating in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, released a draft proposal that outlines future major possible phases of development. Dubbed Sound Transit 3, the $50 billion plan could extend light rail to Seattle neighborhoods like Ballard and West Seattle, and further out to other parts of the three counties, in cities like Everett and Issaquah. But the projected timeline is expansive, with up to 75 stations proposed along 108 miles of new light rail and up to 20 rapid bus line stops in the next 25 years. “Some stations could open in the next few years, but some nearby neighborhoods will wait more than a decade for tracks,” KOMO News reports. “West Seattle won't have a station until 2033, and Ballard's would be completed in 2038.” The system could carry around 500,000 riders per day. Engineers will need to examine the feasibility of the plan, including the proposed tunnel that would run from downtown Westlake underneath Seattle’s tallest hill, Queen Anne. “From a technical standpoint, West Seattle comes first because of the severe complexity of building a tunnel and six stations from Westlake Station to Uptown (Lower Queen Anne), a part of the Ballard line, transit staff say. Challenges include a second Westlake station two stories lower than the current one,” writes The Seattle Times. Funding would come from a mix of sources: existing taxes, new taxes through 2041 (with $27 billion coming from around $400 of additional property taxes per household), federal grants, and debt. The proposal could go on the November ballot for voters living in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties if the Sound Transit board approves the ballot packet this June.
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Catch a Design Film at the Seattle 2016 ByDesign Film Festival

What could be better than film, urbanism, architecture, and design? When film, urbanism, and design unite, we get powerful and insightful results: there’s La Haine, a French film that follows three young men in the banlieues of Paris; there’s Mon Oncle, that pokes fun at the absurdities of residential Corbusian inspired architecture; and more recently films like My Architect, where Louis Kahn’s son seeks to know his father's work, and through his work, his father. For those of you in the Seattle area this week, a heads up: the Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) is hosting its annual design film festival, ByDesign 2016 that features films exploring architecture, art, urban design, and other design-related themes. The festival runs for four days: April 14-17.

BYDESIGN 2016 TRAILER (COURTESY NORTHWEST FILM FORUM)

NWFF is screening the German film, Beyond Metabolism, which looks at the impact of Metabolism, an architectural post-WWII movement in Japan (that could be a distant cousin to Brutalist architecture with its imposing, monumental concrete forms) through the lens of Sachio Otani’s Metabolist 1966 International Conference Center in Kyoto. Then there’s Getting Frank Gehry, that presents Gehry's controversial and first Australian-built project: the one-year-old tree-house-inspired Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, which serves as the home for the University of Technology business school in Sydney. Farther north, Strange and Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island, delves into Todd Saunder's architecture—an inn and artist studios that populate a rugged island in Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada. The Chinese film, The Land of Many Palaces investigates the intersection of urban relocation, development, real estate, ownership, and coal in China’s largest ghost city, Ordos City, located over 400 miles west of Beijing. Built by the government with the wealth of newfound Ordos coal deposits, officials are moving farmers living in the countryside to the newly developed urbanized area. “Neighbors and friends,” says a woman with a microphone in the movie trailer who appears to be a government representative addressing new residents, “We are trying to create a more civilized city.” The festival opens with a film staring artist Tom Sachs, A Space Program, who will attend the Seattle premier. If you live closer to New York City and Los Angeles, the two cities will play host to architecture and design film festivals this fall (filmmakers: there's an open call for submissions).
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University of Washington in legal battle over brutalist building

In Seattle,  the University of Washington (UW) is battling the city and three local nonprofits—Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation—was discussed last Friday at a hearing at the King County Superior Court though a decision is still pending. The issue: whether the city can declare More Hall Annex, the 1961 Brutalist building on UW’s campus, a historic city landmark, and effectively stop future development plans on the site. The building is already on the national and state registers of historic places. Designed by The Architect Artist Group (TAAG) that included Wendell Lovett, Daniel Streissguth, and Gene Zema, the building was once home to a nuclear reactor for training nuclear engineering students. The lawsuit embodies the age old case between developers and preservationists, a “freedom to” vs. “freedom from” debate: the university wants to exercise their control, or freedom to develop, and for the city and three involved non-profits, it’s a case of protection, or freedom from demolition of historically significant buildings. “If the university wins it could set a precedent for exempting the UW and other state universities from local land-use laws,” writes Crosscut, an online nonprofit newspaper based in Seattle. "If the city prevails, Seattle’s landmarks ordinance could apply to buildings on campus, including the historic More Hall Annex, aka the Nuclear Reactor Building, which the UW wants to tear down but preservationists want to save.” UW is arguing this is a constitutional issue, while the city believes the UW Board of Regents must adhere to land-use regulations. The clash between the university and the city over More Hall Annex is not new. In 2008, The Seattle Times wrote a piece on the controversy, "UW building is hot, but is it historic?", that profiled a UW architecture graduate student’s plan to help save the building. After learning UW wanted to demolish More Hall Annex, she nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places. The university did not move forward on demolishing the building because of the recession. The student's application was successful. In 2009, More Hall Annex was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an unusual move as the building was less than 50 years old at the time and architects involved in the project were still alive. Yet the university re-examined its plans. In early 2015, according to GeekWire, UW hired Seattle firm LMN Architects to develop plans for a second computer science building. A draft environmental impact statement featured options exploring the More Hall Annex site. Microsoft pledged $10 million to UW to help fund the project. More Hall Annex has stood empty for more than two decades. The nuclear reactor was decommissioned in 1988 and fully decontaminated just under a decade ago.
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See 2,400 Historic Photos of the Space Needle Under Construction

Last week, we highlighted historic mid-century modern architecture photographs digitized by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. And now farther north on the west coast is another new archive find. The Seattle Public Library Special Collections—located on the top floor (nope, not relegated to a dusty basement as is often the case) of the OMA / Rem Koolhaas and LMN-designed Central Library in downtown Seattle—just digitized over 2,400 historic Space Needle construction photographs (and a daily construction log, too). Local Seattleite professional photographer George Gulacsik captured the construction details of the famous 605 foot tall Seattle landmark that took less than a year to build: there are photos of the cement pouring preparation, the painting, the fin raising, the visitors, onlookers, and more. Gulacsik took the photos between April 1961 and October 1962. There is even a photo of former President John F. Kennedy's motorcade taken from above, as Kennedy made his way through Seattle to give a speech at the University of Washington in November 1961. Many Gulacsik images were used as marketing in a 1962 promotional publication, "Space Needle USA." Gulacsik's wife donated his photos in 2010 after he passed away. The collection is named after him. The Space Needle is said to be inspired by the Stuttgart TV Tower in Germany. The design is typically credited to architecture firm John Graham and Company, Victor Steinbrueck, and John Ridley, who worked with businessman Edward E. Carlson and his napkin sketch concept. "Graham was excited by the challenge, and assembled a large team of associates including Art Edwards, Manson Bennett, Erle Duff, Al Miller, Nate Wilkinson, Victor Steinbrueck, and John Ridley," explains History Linkthe online nonprofit Washington State history encyclopedia. "In working to translate Carlson’s doodle into blueprints, they explored a variety of ideas ranging from a single saucer-capped spire to a structure resembling a tethered balloon. Steinbrueck hit on a wasp-waisted tripod for the Space Needle’s legs and Ridley perfected the double-decked “top house” crown." Now we can view the collection from our armchairs, couches, and desks.