The West Coast’s ginned-up professional sports team expansion atmosphere has finally spread to Seattle, where Los Angeles–based developer Oak View Group and architects Populous are looking to renovate the city’s storied KeyArena with the hope of bringing several professional sports teams to town. After years of trying to build a totally new stadium in a different neighborhood in anticipation of a new National Hockey League (NHL) franchise, city leaders changed course in 2017, opting instead to greenlight the renovation of the historic KeyArena complex. The change of plans worked—after the city approved the renovation plan, the NHL announced it would bring a new team to Seattle for the 2020 season, cementing KeyArena as the lynchpin of a revitalized Seattle Center sports district. Populous will repurpose and expand the existing arena, which was designed by architect Paul Thiry in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition. The arena hosted the Seattle Supersonics NBA team until the franchise relocated in 2008. The arena is still in use, however, and currently hosts Seattle’s WNBA franchise, among other tenants. The arena was refurbished and expanded once before in 1994 by NBBJ when the architects dropped the arena floor 35 feet below street level and boosted seating capacity by 3,000 seats. Still, problems with inadequate sight lines from the stands, limited opportunities for concession offerings, few club spaces, and deferred maintenance lingered at the venue. With the forthcoming redesign, the architects are seeking to rectify those shortfalls while preserving the iconic spaceship-like structure by digging 15 feet further down in order to expand the facility to 600,000 square feet in size and add even more seating. The new designs would create flexible seating configurations that will resolve the sightline issues while also providing enough seating to host the NHL team as well as the potentially forthcoming NBA team. In all, the new arena is planned to hold up to 17,100 seats for hockey games, 18,350 seats for basketball games, and between 16,940 to 19,100 seats for music concerts. The project is billed as a top-shelf preservation effort as well, and will be designed to meet the historic preservation standards for building restoration. The end result will be a more-or-less wholly new arena, capped by a restored sculptural concrete roof. An environmental impact review is currently underway for the renovations. The City of Seattle hopes to finish the review sometime this year so that construction can commence and the renovated facilities can open in time for the 2020 NHL season.
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In recent years, the West Coast’s booming cities have seen significant population growth, resulting in an ongoing and worsening housing-affordability crisis. Though there are many overlapping causes for this crisis, the phenomenon is partially a product of too much success and not enough planning—cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have added tens of thousands of new jobs over the years, but have built comparatively few homes to serve those workers. The result is a dizzying increase in the number of people experiencing burdensome rents and homelessness coupled with an expanded reliance on automobile transit as people are forced to live farther away from their jobs in order to afford housing. This regime is straining urban and civic life as more and more people—including college students, school teachers, and even police officers and firefighters— face increasing difficulties in terms of housing affordability. But just as the overlapping crises of climate change, housing unaffordability, and gridlock threaten to overwhelm these cities, potential solutions may be afoot. Across the region, major cities are beginning to cooperate at the regional level with peripheral municipalities in an effort to rein in carbon emissions, increase affordability and equity, and decrease automobile reliance. By relying on envisioned networks of transit-connected villages to grow up rather than out, entire metropolitan regions have the potential to be remade in the image of multi-nodal urbanism. In the Los Angeles area, the Southern California Association of Governments represents 18 million residents across a six-county region with the aim of helping to reduce sprawl. To the north, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association aims to unite the region’s 101 municipalities toward measured growth. Of the three major West Coast cities, however, Seattle—nearly 30 years into its own regional planning experiment following the passage of the Washington State Growth Management Act in 1990—is the furthest along in its efforts to articulate a new form of dense regional urbanism centered on regional transit and dispersed density. As it should, the path toward this brave new world begins with high-capacity transit. Though only established in 1993, the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is in the midst of a massive, multibillion-dollar expansion plan that will see the transit agency extend a slew of new light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines across the Puget Sound region. Sound Transit has been undergoing vigorous growth since 1996, when the agency published its initial “Sound Move” plan, which has been amended, expanded, and reapproved by regional voters first in 2008 and again in 2016. The most recent version— Sound Transit 3 (ST3)—consists of a 25-year vision aimed at adding an additional 62 new miles of light rail throughout the region with the goal of ultimately creating 116 miles of light rail augmented by expanded commuter rail and new BRT services. Crucially, the expanded system includes increased street bus service, shorter headways between buses and trains, and increased transit capacity via longer train cars and articulated buses. When fully built out, the system will span north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and west to Ballard and serve a projected population of five million. Aside from being a transit plan, ST3 is also part of a dogged, municipally led vision aimed at supplementing Seattle’s downtown core by investing in and redeveloping existing cities and towns across the Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), a cooperative agency tasked with envisioning equitable growth strategies for the region, leads the effort on the planning side. The organization helps to study and deploy land-use reforms like up-zoning, works to preserve the location and size of existing industrial lands, and pursues transportation and urbanization planning initiatives with the aim of keeping the rural areas, farmland, and forests around metropolitan regions “healthy and thriving,” according to the organization’s website. The council’s Vision 2040 plan—a growth management– focused environmental, economic, and transportation vision for Puget Sound crafted in 2007—aims to provide a blueprint for this transformation. PSRC’s vision seeks to direct urban growth so that it coincides with Sound Transit’s projected transit map for the future, overlaying progressive planning principles atop new transit corridors before the new lines are ever built. The effect is that land can be bought sooner and at cheaper prices, allowing, for example, nonprofit housing providers to maximize their investments long before surrounding real estate appreciates. Vision 2040 aims to create a set of interconnected “regional centers” that concentrate a density of housing, jobs, and civic and entertainment uses along these new transit corridors. According to PSRC, Washington state’s job growth will be three times higher than the national average over the next five years, a phenomenon the group hopes will reshape the Puget Sound region as a whole. The council is currently working to update its regional-centers plan, and it seeks to cluster groups of complementary industries across the region synergistically with housing and other services. Producing this “housing-jobs balance,” Josh Brown, executive director of PSRC said, is a central mission of the organization. Brown explained, “Our plan calls for larger existing cities to accommodate growth so we can achieve a better housing-jobs balance across the region.” Using this so-called Centers Framework, the organization has been able to create a plan for concentrating urban growth in existing urban centers and projects that, by 2040, the region will be served by over one hundred high-capacity transit stations surrounded by a density of mixed uses. PSRC administers and supports various programs to fulfill these goals, including helping to launch the so-called Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund, which helps to capture low land prices in future-growth areas with the intention of developing mixed-use projects that contain full-throated affordable housing components. The REDI Fund was launched by Enterprise Community Partners and regional partners like PSRC in December 2016 and recently closed on its first deal, a project developed with the Tacoma Housing Authority to create 300 to 500 new homes in the city’s West End neighborhood. For the project, at least 150 of the units will be priced for low- and moderate-income households in a bid to provide affordable housing for community college students in danger of falling into homelessness. The project is planned for a site across the street from Tacoma Community College and will eventually sit at the southern terminus of a forthcoming light rail line. The development will help PSRC achieve its interlocking goals of promoting density in existing corridors while also supporting the region’s burgeoning cohort of future workers. James Madden, senior program director with Enterprise Community Partners, said, “Our goal is to get private land into the hands of mission-oriented nonprofits in order to create mixed-income, multifamily housing.” The initiative comes as the region begins to embrace the coming changes. In the city of Lynwood, north of Seattle, for example, a 250-acre site surrounding a forthcoming light rail station is being redeveloped into a district called City Center that will contain mixed-use development and include a convention center and pedestrian- oriented street design. The plan will help Lynnwood grow in population by over 50 percent in coming decades. The eastern city of Redmond—where Microsoft’s headquarters are located—is also pushing forward on new transit-oriented projects, including the city’s Overlake Village, a 170-acre district that will contain 40,000 residents in the future. The first phase of the redevelopment is a 1,400-unit complex called Esterra Park that will also contain 1.2 million square feet of offices, 25,000 square feet of retail uses, a hotel, and a conference center. Taken together, the multifaceted growth plans in place across the Puget Sound region can serve as an example of a potential future for West Coast cities, a vision that is particularly focused on equity, pedestrianism, and dense urban redevelopment.
Amazon’s triple-domed Spheres in downtown Seattle will be partially open to the public beginning January 30th. The enormous glass bubbles, designed by NBBJ as part of Amazon’s sprawling urban campus, were first approved in 2013. The glass and steel domes vary in size, with the largest bubble spanning 130 feet in diameter and topping out at 95 feet tall. All three Buckminster Fuller-emulating domes are linked, forming a biomorphic greenhouse with 65,000 square feet of workspace and conference areas for Amazon employees. Instead of aping its namesake, the Amazon Spheres have selected plants from a wide variety of sources. The Seattle Times recently toured the Spheres, and gave a rundown of the gardens and 400 plant varieties, within. The garden in the Seventh Avenue sphere holds New World plants mainly from Central and South America, though a 40-year-old Port Jackson fig tree, so large that it had to be craned in, is clearly the centerpiece. An Old World garden grows inside of the Sixth Avenue sphere, where guests and employees will see plants from Africa and Southeast Asia, alongside an entrance-adjacent, 60-foot-tall living wall, and tank filled with aquatic plants and animals from the Amazon. Amazon’s horticulturists have curated a range of plants that could survive alongside the Spheres’ human occupants comfortably. During the day, the spheres will be kept at 72 degrees and 60 percent humidity, which will drop to 55 degrees and 85 percent humidity at night. All of the plants were grown to maturation in a 40,000-square-foot greenhouse offsite and transplanted, beginning on May 1st of last year. Designing offices and meeting spaces alongside climate controls for hundreds of different plant species was no easy task for NBBJ. Fake logs and stumps circulate air from piping within, while the Spheres are warmed in part by excess heat generated from a data center nearby. More details on which companies will be filling the two public retail spaces at ground level are forthcoming. (This is not the first time NBBJ has ventured into novelty office design). Members of the general public can place a reservation to visit the Spheres here, though be warned; the Seattle Times is reporting that 20,000 guests already have the tour booked solidly through April.
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Six years after the University of Washington opened its 90,000-square-foot Molecular Engineering and Sciences Building (MolES), a new addition, the Nano Engineering and Sciences Building (NanoES), has nearly doubled the size of the complex located at the center of the University of Washington (UW) Seattle-based campus. The Seattle offices of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP (ZGF) programmed and designed the two-phased MolES and NanoES buildings, which together provide 160,000 square feet of research space in the field of interdisciplinary molecular engineering considered critical for ensuring future economic, environmental and medical health worldwide. NanoES features unique fabrication and characterization equipment to measure and manipulate molecules at the nanoscale. This second phase relies on custom-engineered products from Wausau Window and Wall Systems to achieve more stringent building and energy codes than were initially in place for phase one. An intensive three-day series of design charrettes brought together the owner, architects, general construction company, curtain wall manufacturer, and glass installer at the onset of the project. Based on the charrettes' targeted value, design goals, code requirements and LEED Silver criteria, Wausau's four-sided structurally glazed (4-SSG) unitized curtainwall system was selected for the project. "The 4-SSG unitized curtainwall was glazed and sealed in Wausau’s factory-controlled conditions. This achieved the targeted designed performance and industry-leading, 10-year warranty required for the project and for the UW campus facility plan," explained Brad Glauser, Wausau’s Northwest Territory manager. "The units were built one lite wide by one floor tall, with interlocking vertical mullions that aligned with the adjacent rain screen’s stone façade, thus creating a true continuous thermal envelope." One benefit of ZGF's integrated design approach was improved communication, which led to a reduction of Addenda, Requests For Information and Architect’s Supplemental Instructions submitted during the pre-construction and construction process. The resulting assembly of the unitized system was installed and enclosed within five weeks. Some of the curtainwall units on NanoES were up to 16 feet tall. To carefully install each unit, lift equipment hoisted each unit onto embeds at face-of-slab, where they were anchored with J-Clips. In total, more than 22,000 square feet of curtainwall were installed on the project.Integrated within the curtainwall are zero sightline project-out awning windows with both manual and motorized operators. In certain areas, windows are programmed to automatically open at night to provide natural ventilation and lessen energy load demands on the HVAC system. Complementing the high-performance curtainwall and window systems, custom, 6-inch-deep aluminum fins at vertical members and 24-inch-deep exterior sun shades were integrated into the building envelope. ZGF designed customized shadow boxes, similar to those on MolES, to add visual depth to the assembly. These elements are all protected with a two-coat "Silver Shadow" mica coating that matches the neighboring MoIES building. Linetec manufactures the resin-based liquid paint through a process that captures the materials volatile organic compounds (VOC) content using a 100 percent air capture system and safely destroys the VOCs with a regenerative thermal oxidizer. Linetec then reuses its heat energy byproduct to improve process energy efficiency. This process of reuse is completed before the material exits the paint line. "The combination of durably finished, 4-SSG unitized curtainwall and high-performance glass achieved UW's requirements," summarizes Glauser. "We exceeded the national forerunning Seattle Energy Codes, as well as UW's energy-efficiency goals with low solar heat gain coefficient, low U-Factor and high condensation resistance. At the same time, high visible light transmittance was maintained, providing occupants with access to daylight, a transparent connection to views and interior comfort. We stayed ahead of schedule and within budget. In my book, this definitely is a success story." Elaborating on this success in the Daily Journal of Commerce, ZGF's associate partner Nicole Cooper, AIA, concluded, "The strong partnership between UW and the design team, as well as a commitment to sustainability, brings the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Building and the Nano Engineering and Sciences Building together to create one high-performance building that fosters a collaborative research environment for years to come."
Amazon opened the doors of its “store of the future” to the public today. The 1,800-square-foot Amazon Go is making waves over its cashier-less checkout system. The shop, first announced in late 2016 and located in downtown Seattle, uses a vast array of ceiling-mounted cameras to charge shoppers for the items they walk out with, a system that could transform the future of retail. The tech giant has attempted to break into the physical retail world before, to mixed results. But after acquiring Whole Foods in June of last year, Amazon now wields considerable leverage with which to reshape real-world retail, and test-runs of new technology could be a sign of things to come. The inaugural Amazon Go store is even designed like a Whole Foods, save for the rows of turnstiles blocking the entrance and the lack of cashiers. Customers swipe their phone and have to connect to their Amazon account in order to enter, and as they shop, hundreds of overhead cameras track what’s taken from the shelves, with no need to microchip the products. Visitors then have their Amazon accounts charged after leaving, although there are still some live humans on hand to guard the alcohol and restock the shelves. This approach is supposed to cut out the lines, but the system is less than perfect.
Linking the shopping to Amazon accounts also places the mini-mart squarely in the boutique market, since Amazon has precluded the use of cash and food stamps. While Amazon has promised that it has no plans to replace any of the staff in Whole Foods stores, Amazon Go is stocked with the grocery chain’s signature 365 Everyday brand and their newly unveiled meal kits. The implication, that Amazon could replace the retail workers it now employs, isn’t without merit. Amazon has already reconfigured the urban fabric outside of its largest markets through the construction of enormous, automated distribution centers, and extending the practices honed in their warehouses into stores would be a logical next step. Amazon has already thrown brick-and-mortar stores into disarray and forced a re-evaluation of physical retail space once, and it may be poised to do it again. Below is a video explanation from Amazon of how the store works.
I’m in Seattle and there is currently a line to shop at the grocery store whose entire premise is that you won’t have to wait in line. pic.twitter.com/fWr80A0ZPV— Ryan Petersen (@typesfast) January 22, 2018
Studies are underway for the eventual construction of the Rainier Square Tower in Seattle, which will eschew a traditional concrete-and-rebar core in favor of a new steel plate system. The mixed-use Rainier Square development’s tower will be Seattle’s second tallest, and the building’s modular core will be a proof-of-concept in the earthquake-prone city. When AN first wrote about the NBBJ-designed and Wright Runstad & Company-developed Rainier Square Tower after its initial unveiling in 2015, comparisons were drawn between the building’s kinked shape and a high-heeled boot. The tower has grown from 795 feet tall to 850, but the distinctive massing and glassy facade have remained the same; the building’s slope is meant to preserve the view of the adjacent Rainier Tower, designed by Minoru Yamasaki. The $570 million Rainier Square Tower will forgo a typical high-rise core, which wraps a steel frame around a concrete core that has been reinforced with steel rebar, and will instead use a modular system of steel plates sandwiched with concrete. A boundary system is set up to shape the core, and the cross-tied plates are moved into place, and then filled onsite. While the construction of a full-scale core mock-up began in October, the general contractor, Lease Crutcher Lewis, has estimated that this alternate method would mean that the superstructure, set to begin work this August, would only take a year to complete. If these claims are true, that’s nearly nine months sooner than a comparable tower of this size. And, as the construction schedule is shortened, Wright Runstad is expected to save 2 percent of its original $370 million building costs. Structural engineer Ron Klemencic, CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) is the system’s mastermind, and says that even with the increased construction speed and 58-story height, he’s confident that the tower will be able to withstand stress from wind sheering as well as seismic loads. The Rainier Square development will not only include the tower, but also a cubic glass-clad hotel wedged between Rainier Tower and Rainier Square Tower. Yamasaki’s concrete tower, affectionately named “The Beaver” by Seattle locals for the way the building balloons up from a narrow base akin to a chewed log, is the only original building on the block that will remain. If the engineering claims bear out and the new core system proves as easy to install as the contractors are expecting, Rainier Square Tower should be complete by April 2020.
This week, the Seattle city council approved a timeline to tear down the elevated Highway 99 viaduct, a double-layered roadway that was damaged by an earthquake in 2001. As Seattle presses on with its expensive and sometimes controversial plan to bore an underground replacement Highway 99 tunnel, some groups are questioning what will be done with the land underneath the existing highway. While plans to revitalize Seattle’s waterfront in 2019 have been well-publicized, an opportunity to add more public space to the offering may lurk even further down. The Highway 99 viaduct currently runs over Battery Street Tunnel, a 2,000-foot-long, 60-foot-wide artery under the street, scheduled to be decommissioned alongside the viaduct. Although the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) plans to fill the 120,000-square-foot tunnel with concrete, Recharge the Battery, a collection of architects, artists and planners, have proposed activating the roadway as a public space. After Recharge the Battery took public comments in September on how to transform the space, some of the ideas that came to the forefront were an inclusive public park, bath house, interactive art gallery, monster hall of fame, and turning the tunnel into a skate park. The group has argued that, following successful adaptive resuse projects in cities around the world, such as the High Line and Transit Museum in New York, giving the Battery Street Tunnel a second life isn’t impossible. “To look at the tunnel simply as a liability and fill it in is a one-sided take,” said Jon Kiehnau, Recharge the Battery ‘s co-founder. “You have to look at the fact that the tunnel is 120,000 square feet. Based on the current price of real estate it’s worth more than $100 million. You have to look at what a positive thing it can be.” Although competing visions for the tunnel have been offered, it’s uncertain whether WSDOT would alter their infill plans, or even decouple the decommissioning of the viaduct from the destruction of the Battery Street Tunnel. WSDOT spokesperson Laura Newborn has stated that the department is legally obligated to fill in the tunnel, as it has become seismically unstable and expensive to maintain. Even Recharge the Battery has acknowledged that retrofitting the tunnel to meet seismic safety standards could cost anywhere from $10 million to $100 million. With WSDOT scheduled to begin decommissioning work in February, Recharge the Battery and the general public only have a few months left to plead their case.
The Architect’s Newspaper will be hosting its Facades+AM conference in Seattle on December 8th at the Motif Seattle Hotel. The latest installment in AN’s ongoing conference series, Facades+AM will bring a total of three sessions and nine speakers to Emerald City–based Architecture Engineering and Construction industry professionals. The conference is co-chaired by Stephen Van Dyck, partner at LMN Architects (LMN), and will feature a bevy of Seattle-specific discussions led by some of the region’s best-known architects, designers, and engineers, including Van Dyck, Maurya McClintock of McClintock Facade Consulting, and Jim Graham of Graham Baba Architects. The morning’s panel presentations will cover three topics: cross-industry innovation, facade design for the Washington State Convention Center Addition project, and the role of historic preservation in Seattle’s ongoing construction boom. The first panel will be moderated by Van Dyck, who explained to AN that the discussion will center around the way in which Seattle’s tech-heavy economy is resulting in a collection of emerging architecture industry–adjacent technologies. The discussion will include presentations from Dan Belcher, developer with McNeel, Andry Bridge, Director of R&D with Janicki, and Choong Ng, co-founder of Vertex.AI, and will delve into synergistic technological developments coming of out the city’s most fruitful architecture and technology partnerships, like new advances in digitally-guided tooling and fabrication methodologies. The morning’s second panel discussion will zero-in on the Washington State Convention Center Addition project, for which LMN is serving as associate architect. The 1.5 million-square-foot addition to the Washington State Convention Center will usher in one of the world's first vertically-organized convention centers. One of the major challenges for the design team on the project will be to integrate the sprawling 15-story structure into surrounding areas while also promoting energy efficiency and social incubation, according to Van Dyck, who will also moderate this discussion. He will be joined by various members of the project team discussing each speaker's respective role in the project. Panelists for the discussion will be Peter Alspach, principal at ARUP, Maurya McClintock, founder of McClintock Facade Consulting, and Kate Rufe, architect at LMN. The morning’s final discussion will highlight Seattle’s ongoing growth dilemma, which is pitting high-rise residential growth and the city’s urban renewal against historic preservation efforts, many of which are aimed toward adaptive reuse, like Olson Kundig's renovations to the Seattle Space Needle. From the ongoing issues over changes coming to Lawrence Halprin’s Freeway Park, to plans for reusing the city’s iconic Key Arena and LMN’s own renovation and expansion to the Asian Art Museum, Seattle is packed with controversial, inspiring, and thoughtful historic preservation approaches alike. The adaptive reuse-focused panel—moderated by Jessica Miller, principal at LMN—will feature presentations from Blair Payson, principal at Olson Kundig, Michael Aoki-Kramer, managing principal at RDH Building Science, Inc., and Jim Graham, co-founder of Graham Baba Architects who will discuss their own firms’ preservation-related projects. For more information on Seattle’s Facades+AM conference, see the conference website.
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The Angle Lake Transit Station and Plaza is a seven-acre, 400,000-square-foot mixed-use complex for Sound Transit, a public transit agency serving the Seattle metropolitan area. The project was awarded to Los Angeles–based architecture firm Brooks + Scarpa after an international design-build competition was held. It was completed earlier this year. With over 4,000 people living within a one-half-mile radius of the station, the project offers community-focused exterior and interior spaces such as specially designed drop-off areas, retail spaces, bike storage facilities, and electric vehicle charging stations. The transit hub is a seven-story, cast-in-place and post-tensioned concrete structure with an exterior facade that uses over 7,500 custom-formed blue anodized aluminum facade panels. Using ruled surface geometry, the undulating facade is formed by connecting two curves with a series of straight lines to form the surface of the facade. Each of the custom aluminum facade elements was designed and segmented into standardized sizes for the most efficient structural shape and material form, while maximizing production, fabrication and installation cost efficiency. This technique allowed the design team to work with complex curved forms and rationalize them into simple, cost-effective standardized components, making them easy to fabricate and efficient to install. The entire facade was installed in less than three weeks without the use of cranes or special equipment. The architects say the facade concept was inspired by William Forsythe’s improvisational piece, ‘Dance Geometry,’ where dancers connect their bodies by matching lines in space that could be bent, tossed or otherwise distorted. Translating this into construction, the architects explored how simple straight lines can be composed to produce implied curvature. “This idea lessens the need to think about the end result and focus more on discovering new ways of movement and transformations.” Ultimately, Brooks + Scarpa provided analysis, constructability, and digital documents for direct and automated fabrication. Working from the assumption that automated fabrication techniques would not be utilized in the project, one of the challenges of the project was to develop a workflow that would result in constructable, rationalized geometry. To achieve this, the project team worked closely with fabricators to translate digital ruled surfaces into segmented standardized sizes responsive to material requirements and fabrication efficiency. The bottom and top chords of the facade surface were segmented, which reduced their profile to measurable arcs for a pipe roller, or straight-line segments for standardized shapes. Beyond the facade, Brooks Scarpa’s plaza design caters both to transit users and the community at large by accommodating community events, such as festivals, farmers’ markets, art exhibits, and other outdoor public gatherings. Ornately designed seat walls, pathways, paving, native planting, and storm-water catchment features help to engage transit users as they move through the space, creating quiet places for social interaction while waiting for a transit connection. Beyond this plaza, the parking structure is designed to best practice standards for future adaptive reuse. These design features, along with specific energy-efficient materials and systems, allowed Angle Lake Transit Station and Plaza to be an Envision-certified sustainable mixed-use facility. Envision is a rating system similar to LEED, administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure for infrastructure projects.
For the second time this year, Seattle-based Olson Kundig has released new, jaw-dropping renderings depicting the firm’s planned renovations for the Seattle Space Needle. The renderings come as construction on the $100 million Century Project gets underway, following the installation of a 44,650-square-foot scaffolding platform at the base of the Space Needle’s Tophouse. The platform, installed by scaffolding firm Safway, will act as a base for a temporary, weather-proof structure that will shield the project’s 25 construction workers from inclement weather at the top of the Space Needle, 400 feet up in the air. The temporary structure will contain construction activity to the exterior of the Tophouse, allowing for the facilities to remain open throughout the build-out. The new renderings showcase the breath-taking vistas Olson Kundig’s designs will lend to the Space Needle, including those from a panoramic dining room supported by a rotating, all-glass floor. The renovated restaurant space will occupy the 15-foot-long rotating ring at the circumference of the Space Needle’s Tophouse and will have wrap-around views of the city provided by a continuous band of thin-framed tempered glass windows. Below the glass slab floors, the Space Needle’s structure and the gear assemblies that keep the top spinning, will be visible, as well. Tihany Design is doing the restaurant's interiors, with interior architecture by Olson Kundig. The public observation platform above will receive new all-glass enclosures, including a glass railing and embedded glass benches. Safety fencing will also be replaced and exchanged for an all-glass envelope. ADA-compliant upgrades will also be made to the structure throughout.
Principals Alana Maskin and Blair Payson told The Architect’s Newspaper that “A key design goal for the project is to improve the breathtaking and awe-inspiring view from the observation deck for all visitors.” The designers plan on making the complex more responsive to the needs of differently-abled users by adding new accessibility ramps as well as a new platform lift for wheelchair accessibility will link the observation level and exterior observation deck. The lift is designed to function as a stair when not in use as wheelchair access and can transform automatically to fit each use. The designers will also boost accessibility features for all of the Space Needle’s bathrooms, enlarging and reconfiguring facilities to ensure ADA compliance.
Another goal of the project, Maskin and Payson explained, was to bring the new designs in line with original visions for the spire, which included floor-to-ceiling glass enclosures on the observation levels that were not entirely possible given existing technologies at the time of original construction. Maskin added, "If there is one material that defines this renovation, it is glass,” while explaining that the firm had partnered with glazing engineer Front to utilize “every typical glass type” in existence, from annealed, heat-
strengthened, heat-tempered, chemically-tempered, and laminated glass technologies.Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2018, and the Century Project website has more information. Blair Payson, Principal at Olson Kundig, will be speaking about the project at Facades+AM Seattle on December 8th.
The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has granted landmark status for the city’s iconic Key Arena, a move that will help guide recently-proposed renovations for the 55-year-old structure. Earlier this year, Los Angeles–based developers Oak View Group unveiled a speculative bid to renovate and update the aging structure in an attempt to lure professional basketball and hockey teams to the Emerald City. The $564 million scheme was selected by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in lieu of a competing bid from AEG and Hudson Pacific Properties, partially because Oak View’s proposal sought to keep intact more of the structure’s historic, character-defining features, like its hyperbolic paraboloid roof. The recent landmark designation is expected to aid in this endeavor by creating a predictable and orderly scope for the renovations to proceed. Potentially, the landmark status could also allow the development to benefit from historic tax credits. The structure, according to Arena Digest, was recognized by the preservation board for meeting all six thresholds for historic designation, with the building’s roof, exterior walls, and structural trusses receiving official status. Key Arena was designed by architect Paul A. Thiry in 1962 as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition. The structure became a sports arena in the years after the exposition and played home to the Seattle Supersonics professional basketball team from 1967 until 2008 when the team decamped for Oklahoma City. The structure received extensive renovations in 1995 that partially impacted the now-historic roof structure. It is unclear how or if the new renovation scheme will seek to repair these changes.
The latest “crane index” report from construction industry tracking firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) reveals the ongoing construction boom across the American West, as the region's major cities see broad increases in the number of cranes on the ground. RLB’s biannual skyline count has tallied nearly 400 fixed cranes in operation across the U.S. and the Canadian cities of Toronto and Calgary. Toronto topped out the list, overall, with 72 cranes in operation. Seattle fell one spot to second overall, with Los Angeles, and Denver, Colorado—tallying 58, 36, and 35 cranes, respectively— rounding out the top three American cities on the list. Chicago; Portland, Oregon; Calgary; and San Francisco follow closely behind with the list with 34, 32, 29, and 22 cranes each. Seattle’s count has held steady from the last report in October 2016, when the city first captured top ranking. The cities of Calgary, Denver, Los Angeles, and Portland, according to the report, saw increases while crane counts over the period since, with counts for Boston, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Toronto remaining the same. In Seattle, the city’s emerging Denny Triangle neighborhood and regional growth associated with recent upzoning measures aimed at alleviating the regional housing crisis there helped to keep the city’s crane count high. Wolfstreet recently reported that an estimated 67,507 apartment units are in various stages of development in the city. In Los Angeles, meanwhile, a city-led push to add 8,000 hotel rooms to areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center is responsible for many of the gains there, as several projects like the Gensler-designed Metropolis, Fig + Pico, and 1020 Figueroa developments climb out of the ground. High rise developments going up in surrounding downtown areas, as well as the ongoing construction of the new Los Angeles Rams National Football League team stadium by HKS Architects, account for some of the other gains. Overall, the RLB report cites strong growth in residential construction as an overall driver for the general increase in cranes across the region. RLB’s next report is due January 2018.