Posts tagged with "Seattle":

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Washington state converts motel into coronavirus quarantine

While several countries around the world are developing national strategies to lessen the outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as a type of coronavirus, the United States has not yet developed a unified course of action. Washington state has been one of the most affected since the virus spread to America, leaving officials to devise short term, cost-effective solutions using preexisting resources. Health officials in King County, the most populous county in Washington, saw potential in converting a motel up for sale into a public health quarantine facility. The Econo Lodge in Kent, a city 20 miles south of Seattle, was purchased for $4 million to house up to 80 patients. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the former motel is set to be operational within the next week. The community leaders in Kent, however, have expressed their concerns about the sudden reuse of the motel as a quarantine facility without proper notification. “We have invested millions of dollars into the infrastructure around this location,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph told the Los Angeles Times, “and now visitors and residents will be greeted by a public health quarantine facility.” The motel’s location across from Washington State Route 167, the main thoroughfare between Seattle and Kent, makes its presence in the city especially apparent. It has also been pointed out that while more cases were documented in nearby Kirkland, a wealthier city with a median income of $107,000, the lower-income city of Kent was chosen as a quarantine facility site given the relatively low property cost. “So we’re taking patients currently being exposed in the wealthier communities on the east side,” said Ralph, “and putting them down in the middle of our city. An affluent community honestly would have more resources to handle a potential disruption like this.” King County’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is a potential case study for how other regions across the United States might treat the virus in the coming months, suggesting a potential overlap between the country’s economic disparity and proposed solutions for public health crisis prevention. A “drive-through” method of early testing, on the other hand, is available to employees of the University of Washington’s UW Medicine department. According to NPR, a hospital garage lot has been quickly turned into a clinic by installing three well-ventilated medical tents, in which patients can be tested every five minutes. While this is currently limited to health care workers in the university’s health care system, it provides a model for larger-scale methods other sites across America can potentially adopt.
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LMN Architects reveals newly renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum

Seattle-based firm LMN Architects has just completed its renovation and expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) in Volunteer Park, which will reopen to the public on February 8. A major element of the two-year, $56-million project was the renovation of the original museum, a palatial Art Deco building designed by Bebb and Gould in 1933. The building's ornate walls, floors, and ceiling elements were renovated to meet code requirements, and the climate control and seismic systems were also updated. Overhead lightboxes that emulate natural daylighting were embedded into the ceilings of the main gallery spaces. The museum’s central component, the Fuller Garden Court, has been renovated to its original condition to connect to a new lobby space. The building’s program spaces have been vertically connected by a glassy new lobby that provides unobstructed views of the surrounding park. A new, 2,648-square-foot gallery has been attached to the northeast facade of the original building on the opposite side of the main visitor entrance, adding significantly more space for its permanent collection and special exhibitions. The addition contrasts the original building’s opulent aesthetic with continuous floor-to-ceiling windows for maximum daylight exposure. “To work on a historic building like this is a real privilege and honor,” said Sam Miller, partner-in-charge at LMN Architects. “Working with SAAM was a great fit, because our focus is also about creating great social experiences and connecting to community. We hope the addition adds significance to the original historic building, and we are very excited for everyone to visit the museum and experience the renovation and addition for themselves.” The museum's architectural upgrade gave rise to an opportunity for its curators to reimagine the organization of its vast collection of Asian artifacts. “The newly renovated and expanded Asian Art Museum breaks boundaries to offer a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological, exploration of art from the world’s largest continent,” the museum announced on its website. This method of curation will take place across both the original and recently-added gallery spaces. A free weekend-long community celebration will take place on February 8 to inaugurate the reopening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
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Seattle debuts modular housing for homeless Native Americans

Eagle Village, a new pilot community in Seattle’s South of Downtown District, is the first transitional housing project in King County to go fully modular. At the heart of the community are six modular trailers, previously used to house transient Texan oil workers, that have been divvied up into a total of 24 self-contained, dorm-style living units. The units, each outfitted with a bathroom, kitchenette, and ample closet space, are geared to accommodate single-occupancy residents as well as couples and roommates. Pets are also allowed. Even more impressively, Eagle Village is the first transitional housing project anywhere to exclusively provide shelter and related services to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders experiencing homelessness. Completed last October, the $3.3 million development is situated on a parcel owned by King County Metro that will eventually be redeveloped for other purposes. The village, which features a medicinal garden and drum circle, began welcoming its first residents weeks later. In total, Eagle Village has capacity for 31 full-time residents, all of whom, in addition to safe and secure housing, are provided with onsite support services from the Chief Seattle Club, the nonprofit spearheading the project alongside several county agencies. As NPR Seattle affiliate KUOW reported, 30 people, all of them trying to secure affordable housing of permanence in the near future, currently call Eagle Village home. Providing what Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk called “culturally responsible housing” is a challenge that’s somewhat unique to Seattle and King County, where there are an estimated 1,000 homeless people of Native descent. “We make up less than one percent of the total population and make up over 10 percent of our homeless population," Echohawk explained to KUOW. In a press release, King County executive Dow Constantine stressed the ongoing need to provide dignified housing to indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness:
“We know that people of color, and particularly Native Americans, are disproportionately represented in the homeless population, and we are committed to tackling that challenge. With our first completed modular housing project, we are partnering with the Chief Seattle Club to focus on providing safe housing and onsite services for urban Native residents. With Eagle Village, we are turning plans into action, and dreams into hope.”
While there currently aren't plans to expand Eagle Village at its current site, King County will develop other transitional housing communities in Seattle and beyond. Like Eagle Village, all of these future sites will revolve around modular living units once used to house oil workers in Houston. In addition to the six converted trailers now housing the residents of Eagle Village, King County has purchased another 14 Texas-sourced trailers for $90,000 each, with the goal of generating 75 new housing units—units that have the potential to make a world of difference to those who live in them, even if they’re only there a short spell.
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LMN Architects designs daring new Ocean Pavilion for the Seattle Aquarium

Seattle's tightly packed Pike Place Market district is abuzz with tourists seeking all things unique to the culture of the Pacific Northwest. One such destination is the Seattle Aquarium, a nonprofit and marine research center along its Western shore that has been delighting over 800,000 visitors a year since 1977. In 2015, the city council supported an ordinance to contribute $34 million to add a significant addition to the aquarium in the form of an "Ocean Pavilion" dedicated primarily to the exhibition of sharks and stingrays native to the South Pacific. On December 9 of this year, that ordinance passed unanimously. Local firm LMN Architects was recently hired by the aquarium to design a 50,000-square-foot Ocean Pavilion that would effectively replace a portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct abutting the site between Pike Place Market and Piers 59 and 60. “The Ocean Pavilion will be at the crossroads of the city,” said Seattle Aquarium president and chief executive officer Bob Davidson. “It’s a gift, and it’s also a statement of the importance of Seattle’s relationship to the water and the ocean.” A 325,000-gallon tank teeming with marine life will act as a centerpiece for the new pavilion, while surrounding spaces will feature exhibitions showcasing the ecosystems found in Indonesia's Coral Triangle and the general Indo-Pacific region designed to educate visitors of the human-related threats facing ocean life. "Guided by Seattle Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the marine environment," said LMN Architects, "the new facility establishes the context for an ocean ethic, focusing on global stories like climate change and ocean acidification." Adjacent to these exhibition spaces will be an open gathering and viewing space facing Elliott Bay that will accommodate flexible programming for up to 200 people at a time. From the outside, pedestrians will be afforded the opportunity to look through an overhead oculus the firm has dubbed "the Sharkulus," which will offer views into the main exhibit from both the rooftop terrace and the plaza level. The entire project is anticipated to cost $113 million and is scheduled for completion in 2023.
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Olson Kundig reveals world's first human composting facility in Seattle

Last week, doctors, architects, and funeral directors gathered in a Seattle warehouse to toast the first project site for Recompose, a company that offers composting as a “gentle” and natural alternative to cremation and burial. Founded by Katrina Spade, the company converts human remains into soil “so that we can nourish new life after we die.” Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig is heading up the project and revealed renderings for the 18,500-square-foot facility, which is slated for completion in early 2021 in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.  The project is led by Olson Kundig principal Alan Maskin, who is also a part of Recompose’s team, and project manager Blair Payson. “Six years ago, Katrina walked into our studio and had the craziest idea I’d ever heard,” said Maskin, according to The Seattle Times, “I had this transition of shock from ‘oh my God I’m going to die’ to thinking this is something I need to do—something the world needs to do.” The team’s vision involves bodies being placed inside of a modular system of reusable, hexagonal “Recomposition Vessels” which are aerated and covered in wood chips to promote break down. When the process is finished, families will be able to take home some or all of the soil created (one cubic yard, or to put in perspective, several wheelbarrows full), and it's anticipated the rest will go towards reforestation efforts in Washington.  “The core of the new facility’s space is a modular system containing approximately 75 of these vessels, stacked and arranged to demarcate space for rituals and memorial ceremonies,” according to a recent press release from the design team. One rendering shows an aerial view of a ceremony taking place with visitors gathered around in a circle surrounded by walls composed of hexagonal portals, ample biophilic influences, and an arched wooden ceiling.  The interior will consist of trees planted on top of grassy mounds which have the ability to be moved and rearranged across the concrete floor during ceremonies and rituals. Landscaping is planned to surround the space’s ramped entrance and a living wall will span one section of the facility. Seamless transportation of the bodies through moveable vessels is key and pivoting doors will help facilitate the circulation between ceremonial and preparation spaces. The natural organic reduction process requires an eighth of the energy needed for cremation and has calculated carbon savings of over a metric ton per person. The process also prevents embalming fluid from polluting groundwater and minimizes the waste from the production of caskets, headstones, and grave liners. All of which is to say, Recompose’s method is pitched as being more sustainable than conventional after-death practices.  Despite the carbon-sequestering impact, Washington is so far the only U.S. state to have legalized human composting and Recompose claims to be “the first facility in the world to provide a sustainable option for after-death care,” Spade told CityLab. Addressing the group present at the Recompose “housewarming party,” Spade shed some light on the matter, “You all have one thing in common…you are all members of the death-care revolution.”
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Seattle will shutter tiny house village after resident lockout

A tiny house village project in the Northlake neighborhood of Seattle went awry last month when employees from the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI) informed residents that the development would be shuttered by the end of the year. This shutdown comes seven months after the perimeter gates of the 19-bed village were locked by residents against the city and its contractors over fears of a takeover. This marks the second time the city has defunded a tiny house village program without providing an alternative housing solution for its formerly homeless residents. The village has been named Northlake and is internally organized by Nickelsville, a group of homeless and formerly homeless residents of the village. LIHI states that its members were gradually made to feel unwelcome in the village by members of Northlake; John Travena, a resident of the village, explained that “autonomy is very important,” and that its members have attempted to “control who comes in and goes out.” Sharon Lee, the executive director of LIHI, explained that her group “know[s] that there are fundamental differences that make it impossible for us to work together.” Many of the residents of Northlake are eager to keep the village in operation because it provides a positive, more independent alternative to the typical homeless shelter model. Village residents elect their leaders internally each week and have essentially run the property themselves by handling security, kitchen duties, and other operations as a community. The model is catching on in Seattle (albeit slowly), where residents can also host homeless members of the community in tiny homes built in their backyard. Though city spokesperson Will Lemke stated in a press release that the village will shut down on December 31st and be returned to Seattle City Light, the city’s publicly owned electric power utility, Council Member Kshama Sawant is currently making efforts to keep Northlake in operation while developing additional tiny home villages. Brooke Brod, a Northlake neighbor and member of the village’s advisory council, said that “all of us would be very sad to see the permit not renewed at Northlake,” and imagined that “for some folks at the city, the perspective is ‘this is a thorn in our side; it will go away if we don’t renew the permit.”
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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson talks Facades+ and the future of Seattle

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On December 6, The Architect's Newspaper is returning to Seattle for the third year in a row in a dialogue of the architectural trends, technologies, and materials reshaping the Seattle metropolitan area. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a national firm with a significant presence in Seattle, is co-chairing the conference. Panels for the morning symposium will discuss the complex geometries of the Temple of Light, the GNW Pavillion, and The Mark; the longstanding collaboration between Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Su Development, and Morrison Hershfield in the design and construction of residential towers in Bellvue, Washington; and the future of fenestration technology. The second half of the conference occurs in the afternoon and will feature intensive workshops. Participants for the conference symposium and workshops include Arup, Blackcomb Facade Technology, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Eckersley O'Callaghan, Green Facades, Robert McNeel and Associates, Microsol Resources, Morrison Hershfield, Office 52, Olson Kundig, Su Development, Walter P Moore, and ZGF Architects. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, BCJ's associate principal Patreese Martin and principal Robert Miller, the conference co-chairs, discuss their firm's ongoing projects, the symposium panel "Optimizing Residential Design: Pursuing a Housing Model for the Seattle Area," and the overall architectural direction of Seattle and its impact on the conference program. AN: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is one of the leading architectural practices in the United States. What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see in the next few years? Patreese Martin and Robert Miller: Our days are filled with opportunities at widely varying scales with Brio and Yesler High Rise Towers, University of Puget Sound Welcome Center, two fire stations for the Bellevue Fire Department, and even a 200 square foot Studio Cabin in Point Roberts. We are experimenting with methods of documentation, component design, and physically assisting with construction of the tiny studio to train staff and remind ourselves of the nuances of materials and tolerances and the decisions that occur in the field despite anyone’s best efforts to pre-think and document. Through ongoing discussions, we look forward to incorporating lessons learned to improve value and design of larger projects. We believe this attention to detail and mentoring will continue to advance our work on the diverse range of project typologies we are involved with such as makerspaces, high-rises (including Social Good Components/ Urban Interface), single-family residential, and food and beverage. As we continue to find new methods of optimizing processes, such as integrating technologies such as cloud scans, we will leverage current and new technologies to make more specific architecture and experiences for the users. While there is no substitute for intuition and creativity, the balance of rigor and process will result in consistently powerful solutions for our clients. One of the panels, "Optimizing Residential Design: Pursuing a Housing Model for the Seattle Area," focuses on your long-term collaboration with Su Development. What can we expect from this presentation and discussion? BCJ has leveraged collaboration to develop the strongest work possible and unique to each project's circumstance. This team’s collaboration is a stellar example where we were brought into a new building typology with little direct experience and through our strengths in innovation, problem solving, and principles of design we were able to rethink the kit of parts to develop a fresh language for high rises. I believe this will be a fascinating discussion with a client who is the owner, developer, and general contractor. Together we are reconsidering many components of his projects and the window wall exemplifies the benefit of this process. The discussion will focus on our combined experiences of rethinking standard components and processes to achieve iconic creative solutions and superior value. The Seattle metropolitan area continues to experience a tremendous level of growth. What do you perceive to be the most interesting trends in the area today, and how do you perceive the Facades+ program ties into those trends? The unprecedented growth in Seattle has led to increased interest and support for design quality, social quality, and innovation. The diversity of companies locating in the region is also leading to better collaborations across disciplines and within our own. To develop these opportunities further it will require new methods, from liability agreements to effective communication of information including modeling data communicated direct to a shop for fabrication. One intriguing example is the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) which could positively impact the methodologies of programming and information gathering and we have a fascination with its potential. This could become a very powerful tool to find efficiencies in the construction and performance of architectural components such as the facade of a building. Incorporating data regarding environmental conditions, user interfaces, intelligent glass, and cloud-scan information to capture views and context, it is quite possible the power of AI could dramatically alter our abilities to fine-tune the skin of a project. A well-developed AI tool could greatly benefit the advancement of aesthetic, energy efficiency, and occupants' comfort, leading to a whole new frontier of facade development. Further information regarding Facades+ Seattle can be found here.  
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Amazon is building a homeless shelter in its downtown Seattle headquarters

Amazon is building a homeless shelter inside its downtown Seattle headquarters. Eight floors of an upcoming office building will be home to the Mary’s Place Family Center early next year and will be able to house up to 275 guests per night. The Seattle Times reported that the tech giant has been working on the homeless housing project with its longtime community partner, Mary’s Place, for two years. Over 63,000 square feet of space within one of Amazon’s new corporate office buildings at Seventh Avenue and Blanchard Street is being built out for the local nonprofit. Not only will it house sleeping spaces for homeless families, the facility will also include an industrial kitchen where meals will be prepared for guests and 10 other Mary’s Place shelters in Kings County. The new shelter will also feature a health and legal clinic, a rec room, a rooftop terrace, and a diversion shelter to help homeless families in transition. Two of its floors will house 30 rooms for unhoused families with children under treatment for serious medical illnesses. On the seventh floor of the building, there will be space for Amazon employees to continue their volunteer work through Mary’s Place by offering coding courses, resume workshops, and reading lessons to kids.  Amazon has said it’s committed to paying for the family center’s rent, as well as all maintenance, utilities, and security costs over the next 10 years. In an interview with the Seattle Times, an Amazon real estate executive said the space will belong to Mary’s Place for as long as needed, but the nonprofit will be responsible for all operations, programming, and staff salaries. Yearly costs are estimated to be about $2 million. Since it began construction on its massive campus in Seattle nearly a decade ago, Amazon has had to repeatedly battle with the local government for more space. Advocating on behalf of community organizations like Mary’s Place is one way the company has tried to smooth things over with Seattle locals (other than pouring $1.5 million into last week's City Council race on behalf of pro-business candidates). In 2017, Mary’s Place moved into the former Travelodge hotel building that Amazon bought for its future downtown expansion and in June, Amazon pledged to annually donate $8 million to fight homelessness and provide low-cost housing surrounding its campuses in both Seattle and Arlington, Virginia.  The building that houses Mary’s Place Family Center is on track to receive LEED Gold certification. An opening date for the facility has not been announced. 
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Seattle’s Brutalist Freeway Park is reviewed for National Register and approved for renovation

The gorgeously staggered concrete elements of Jim Ellis Freeway Park, one of the most significant architectural spaces in Seattle, are scattered across a thickly forested hill atop an intersection of Interstate 5 between the neighborhoods of Downtown Seattle and First Hill. Completed in 1976 by American landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and Bulgarian architect Angela Danadjieva, the 5.2-acre Freeway Park is one of only a small handful of Brutalist-designed parks in the world and is a commendable example of how parkland can be used to bridge communities that were previously divided by highway infrastructure.

Given its significance to the field of landscape architecture and the urban history of Seattle, Freeway Park was recently nominated for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The nomination was submitted shortly after a $10 million capital improvement project was announced to restore Freeway Park as part of an agreement made with the expansion of the nearby Convention Center. A total of $9,250,000 of the funds will be used for much-needed repairs and restoration, while the remaining $750,000 will go towards the further activation of the park as part of its management by the Freeway Park Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1993 to advocate and host events in the park.

A portion of the funds may go towards reintroducing the water feature to the park, which was discontinued in 1992 following an issue with water loss that was present since its construction. The renovation process is expected to begin next summer and be completed by December 2021.

The nomination was reviewed on October 25 by the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and it was subsequently placed on the Washington Heritage Register in a unanimous vote. Its placement on the NRHP is still yet to be announced.

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Olson Kundig upgrades Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

The new Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture building opened its doors on Seattle’s University of Washington Campus on October 12, three years after the project was first announced. Designed by local architecture firm Olson Kundig using a $99 million budget, the 113,000-square-foot Burke Museum contains 66 percent more space for research, education, and storage, and features a series of airy exhibition spaces displaying a portion of its 16 million-object collection of fossils and Native American art, the majority of which was held in storage for much of the institution’s 130-year past. “We look forward to having a new building that serves as a gathering place for learning, research, and appreciation of cultures and the environment for generations to come,” said Burke Museum Executive Director Dr. Julie K. Stein. The new Burke was designed to reflect both the present conditions of the university and the Pacific Northwest character of the site, most notably with its distinctive Kebony-produced siding made of southern pine, a material that was once a common building material in the area. Additionally, a Pacific madrone tree that was once on the site was carefully removed to be later integrated back into the construction to minimize waste on the property. These and other gestures were initiated in keeping with the building’s goal of being accredited with LEED Gold certification. The building does, however, contain plenty of signature design gestures from the firm, including a large pivoting window wall in the museum’s expansive café. “We wanted to create a simple, beautiful, rational, and flexible building that will serve the Burke for hundreds of years,” said Tom Kundig, cofounder of Olson Kundig. “It is an inviting place not only for the public but also for the scientists, researchers, and curators of today and tomorrow.” While previous iterations of the museum were opaque and disjointed, the firm sought to make the institution’s new home transparent and united in its facilities. Labs and gallery spaces, for example, are separated by panes of glass to provide visitors with the opportunity to see roughly two-thirds of the items kept on storage shelves as well as “behind-the-scenes” paleontology. “I knew we had to do more than just build a bigger box with good air conditioning,” said Stein. “People’s reaction to going behind the scenes is magic. We had to do something to create that magic for everyone who comes to the Burke, not just the select few who get a behind-the-scenes tour.”
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ZGF and Arup integrate form and structure with steel knuckles in The Mark

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The Mark is a 750,000 SF, 48-story commercial office and hotel tower that's reshaping the Seattle skyline, and designed to preserve the historic Jacobean-style Rainier Club and the nation’s oldest Byzantine-style church next door. Utilizing a compact footprint at ground level, the tower subtly slopes over the site’s existing structures before tapering back through a precise system of steel “knuckles” and triangulated building planes.
  • Facade Manufacturers Supreme Steel Pohl Pilkington Viracon
  • Architect ZGF Architects
  • Facade Installer The Erection Company Harmon
  • Historical Preservation Architect Ron Wright & Associates
  • Fabricators Supreme Steel
  • Structural Engineer Arup USA (Tower), Coughlin Porter Lundeen (Sanctuary)
  • Location Seattle, Washington
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • Products Harmon UCW8000 Curtainwall Viracon VRE1-54 glazing Pohl Custom Panels & Steel
Preserving and incorporating the First United Methodist Church into the new development, the tower rises from the city block with a faceted form. At the tower’s base, a transparent entrance lobby and lower level facade integrates with The Sanctuary and The Rainier Club to provide an enclosed court between buildings. With 15,000 square feet available on The Mark's first floor, the floorplates needed to expand on subsequent levels to maximize leasing potential. Through a joint development agreement with The Rainier Club, ‘over-under’ property rights are utilized. It is Seattle's first tower with column-free floors and floor-to-ceiling windows—more per square foot than in any other building in the city. At the heart of the tower is a diagonal steel mega-brace system. The exposed braces zigzag up the tower’s facade and are embedded 11 inches into its reflective glazing. The intersections of the braces are called “the knuckles,” where brace members were initially bolted and finished with penetration welds. The knuckles are a result of the desire to stitch the building together along its corners, even though the design also mandated that the same corners be column-free. Every knuckle had to occur at a floor level, so that forces from braces on two orthogonal faces could be resolved into the floor structure. The structural system shifts the load away from the core and to the exterior walls, allowing for a smaller core and creating more rentable floor space. ZGF and Arup worked with steel fabricator Supreme Steel to create the knuckles with a Halfen anchoring system for the building’s unitized panels. Supreme Steel developed a detailed three-dimensional model showing all of the welds and plates. The mega-brace structural technology enveloping The Mark is a first for towers in high-seismic regions. The design optimizes building height, configuration and floor plate efficiency while responding to the owner’s vision for an iconic addition to downtown Seattle’s skyline. Allyn Stellmacher, a partner at ZGF Architects, talked about what it meant to rethink tall buildings in the city. “Our client, Kevin Daniels, envisioned a project that could reset expectations for high-rises in Seattle. Alongside our project partners, it was gratifying to help make our mark on the skyline.” ZGF associate Henry Zimmerman and Arup associate Bryce Tanner will be presenting The Mark on the panel"Thinking Outside the Box: Detailing and Fabrication Considerations for Advanced Building Geometries," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Seattle conference on December 6.
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Seattle Asian Art Museum will reopen in February after a two year expansion

The Seattle Asian Art Museum will reopen to the public in February 2020 after a two-year, $56 million renovation and expansion project. The museum, which has not undergone any major work since it was first built in 1933, is in the midst of an extensive renovation by LMN Architects to both secure the building’s aging structure and reopen the facilities as a modernized exhibition space. The Asian Art Museum will reopen with a new debut, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, and the special exhibition Be/longing: Contemporary Asian Art. Two full days of free events will also accompany the shows on February 8 and 9, 2020, with tickets available starting in December. The museum is renowned for housing one of the most prominent collections of Asian art outside the continent itself. Its galleries display work spanning the 1st to 21st century and hailing from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. The Asian Art Museum is in Volunteer Park and makes up one-third of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and has occupied its art deco home since 1994. Prior to that, the 1930s-era building functioned as the original location of SAM until its move downtown.  In addition to preserving the historic sandstone facade, landscaping, and fountains, the museum has significantly expanded its gallery and programing facilities. The expansion includes a new 2,600-square-foot gallery as well as new education, conservation, and community spaces on the building's east side. The existing Fuller Garden Court, the museum's central point, will be renovated and connected to a new park-facing lobby. The galleries will also receive an upgraded lighting system that mimics natural daylight.  Taking advantage of its location, the glass-enclosed Park Lobby on the east side of the museum will overlook Olmsted’s Volunteer Park. Reinforcing the building’s relationship to the park was one of the museum’s major goals. “The design represents the seamless integration of the building’s spectacular site," said LMN in a statement, "with the museum’s mission for the 21st century: to showcase Asian art in conjunction with contemporary educational and conservation spaces."  As one of only a handful of museums specializing in Asian art in the U.S., the expanded public programming, exhibition, and conservation capabilities of the museum will be a huge cultural asset to the city. “With the completion of this project, we unveil new spaces to connect the museum’s extraordinary collection of Asian art to our lives and experiences,” said Amada Cruz, Illsley Ball Nordstrom director and CEO of SAM, in a press statement.