Posts tagged with "Seattle":
Like many regions across the country, Seattle is still recovering from the Great Recession, especially when it comes to housing construction.
According to the Seattle Times, rents citywide went up 9.7 percent last year, outpacing increases in every other American city and fueling displacement, gentrification, and overall income inequality. At the same time, the economy has picked up: A recent report by consultants Rider Levett Bucknall listed Seattle as having 58 cranes in operation, more than any other city in the country. Not only that, but the Seattle region added roughly 700,000 residents (roughly the population of Seattle proper) between 2000 and 2014 and is expected to add at least as many in coming decades.
As the economy surges, so does development. This is especially true of projects fueled by—and for—tech-industry juggernauts like Amazon, which is building a NBBJ-designed, 3.3-million-square-foot headquarters in Seattle’s Denny Regrade neighborhood. A condominium tower suburb is sprouting up alongside the new headquarters, too, with an untold number of high-end and luxury units due to come online in that corner of the city over the next few years. There are at least 26 new high-rise developments in the works in the area, with between 10,000 and 30,000 units currently permitted or in pre-development according to a study by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.
In step with the building boom, a different sort of pro-growth tide is washing ashore: YIMBYism. The so-called YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement is growing rapidly in many American cities, especially across the West, where high rents, increasing urban density, and social justice issues are bringing together broad—and sometimes uneasy—coalitions of more-or-less pro-development voices. The difference is that the voices at the table—anti-displacement working poor communities, pro-density yuppies, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement—are more focused and diverse than your run-of-the-mill “build, baby, build!” crowd.
This new crop of urbanists advocates development to address complex, intersecting issues like mitigating climate change, increasing access to affordable housing, expanding transportation options, and building design justice into the urban fabric.
The groups have rallied around disparate causes, either advocating for or against new development and so far, they’ve had several successes.
One of the groups’ most notable achievements was to block the construction of the $149.2 million North Precinct police station in Seattle. The project, designed by Portland, Oregon–based SRG Partnership, would have brought a 105,000-square-foot facility to a northern part of the city. The project, dubbed “The Bunker” by the BLM activists and a group called Block The Bunker who most fervently fought the proposal, was widely seen as an extension of the city’s ever-growing police state and represented, in the minds of these activists, a misallocation of community resources. Though these groups are not formally affiliated with other pro-development YIMBY groups, their efforts to bake racial and design justice into Seattle's urban fabric add a much needed anti-racism component to the city's chorus of urbanist voices. After a coordinated and cooperative protest in the streets and at city council meetings by anti-Bunker activists, the project was terminated. In his announcement, Capitol Hill Seattle reported that Mayor Ed Murray said the following about the station: “I inherited the [North Precinct] proposal and I made a mistake about not stopping [it].” He added that his office neglected to abide by the city’s racial equity toolkit while pursuing the project. Activists sought to redirect funding for what would have been the most expensive police station in the country toward beneficial community uses—they argued that the money should be used to build 1,000 units of affordable housing.
Another group called No New Youth Jail—also led by people of color and anti-racism advocates—is fighting to stop the construction of a new King County-funded youth detention center in the city, as well.
A different coalition came together this fall to pass Proposition 1, a ballot ordinance to raise $54 billion to expand transit options in the city. The proposition, also known as “Sound Transit 3,” passed with 55 percent support across a three-county area. The proposition aims for a new round of permanent tax increases to fund 10 light rail extensions and three bus-rapid transit extensions across Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties by 2041. As the name implies, Sound Transit 3 represents the third such measure to pass since 1996.
Activist urbanists were also instrumental in pushing Mayor Murray to increase the zoning density allowed around north Seattle’s U-District, adjacent to the University of Washington. The change is the first to be implemented since the city adopted a new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA-R) policy requiring developers to either include affordable units in every new multifamily residential and commercial project in upzoned areas project or pay into a fund used to build affordable units off-site. The U-District upzone calls for raising maximum building heights from 65 feet to 320 feet, among other things, and was designed in anticipation of a new Link light rail line expected to open in 2021.
On September 30, LMN Architects revealed renderings for a planned $49 million expansion and renovation to the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) Asian Art Museum, the first time in the 83-year-old institution’s history that its flagship art moderne structure will be renovated.
The building, located in the city’s verdant Volunteer Park, was designed by Carl F. Gould of the architectural firm Bebb and Gould to house SAM’s original art collection. After SAM’s principal collection was relocated in 1991 to a downtown Seattle flagship designed by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, the 1933 building was rechristened as the Asian Art Museum. That move left the original Bebb and Gould building languishing, a product of a bygone era when buildings relied heavily on natural ventilation as a means of climate control and the needs of only a small portion of potential building occupants were considered. As a result, the structure lacks the sophisticated temperature and climate control systems typical for a world-class art institution and is out of compliance with Americans with Disability Act (ADA) legislation.
LMN’s renovations aim to fix those discrepancies and more by rebooting the structure through the addition of a new wing along the existing eastern side containing a 2,650-square-foot gallery for Southeast Asian art, a community meeting room, and a set of new office spaces. The renovation will also add teaching spaces and possibly an Asian art conservation studio. Importantly, the extension will be clad in expanses of glass and aims to increase the connections between the museum’s interior and its park setting.
Regarding the complicated renovation plans for the structure, Sam Miller, lead architect for the project at LMN, said, “On the renovation side, our goal is to be true to the original intent of the building and to transform the [Bebb and Gould structure] into a fully functioning, 21st-century museum while also being entirely respectful of the historic fabric and the design quality the building represents.” He added, “In another way, our work is to make sure you would never know we were there.”
2016 Best of Design Award for Landscape > Public: Lower Rainier Vista & Pedestrian Land Bridge by GGN
With the Lower Rainier Vista Project, GGN extends and completes the Olmsted Brothers’ historic vision for a monumental campus axis at the University of Washington. The project’s defining feature is the lowering of the roadway that isolated the last portion of the historic axis, reconnecting it with an elegant land bridge. This new connection allows pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and automobiles to move easily between the UW Husky Stadium light rail station and the campus heart. By creating a more generous, people-focused feel to the campus, the Vista Project reenvisions a disconnected landscape as a place to linger.
Structural Engineer and Civil Engineer KPFFElectrical Engineer and Lighting Designer AEI/Pivotal Lighting Design Irrigation Design Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company Gabion Basket Walls Hilfiker Retaining Walls Linear LED Lighting i2Systems
Honorable Mention, Landscape > Public: Governors Island Park & Public Space
Architects: West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture Location: Governors Island, NY
With an extraordinary 360-degree panoramic experience of the New York Harbor, the sculpted topography, winding pathways, and carefully planted trees of Governors Island Park create a beautifully choreographed celebration of nature while improving resilience for rising sea levels.
Honorable Mention, Landscape > Public: Newark Riverfront Park
Design Team: Weintraub Diaz Landscape Architects, Newark Planning Office, Hatch Mott MacDonald, MTWTF Location: Newark, NJ
Using a participatory design process with input from over 6,000 residents, this project transformed a brownfield adjacent to a Superfund site into an oasis meant to reflect its ethnically diverse working class community, while benefitting it socially, economically, and environmentally.
Like other cities across the country, Seattle has been suffering from a severe lack of housing supply that, over the long term, has caused housing prices and rents to skyrocket. A slew of big-budget, mostly luxury skyscraper projects are in the works, however, and aim to bring many more units online over the coming years, hopefully easing the housing crunch. It might seem confusing to counter high housing prices with luxury developments. But given a multi-decade-long trend of under-building, millenials’ stunted entry into the housing market, and the fallout from the foreclosure crisis of 2008, the only way to make prices (which have increased 35 percent over the last five years in the rental market) go down is simply to build more of everything.
In Seattle, the city’s Denny Triangle—just beyond the city’s downtown—has been the recent site of a tectonic shift in real estate and development. Architecture firm NBBJ is currently working on a huge, 3.3 million-square-foot corporate skyscraper campus for online retailer Amazon here that will span three city blocks and include three 37-story tall towers, two mid-rise office buildings, and a series of “biospheres” containing exotic plant specimens. The development has jumpstarted other housing and mixed-use projects along Denny Way and the surrounding streets, laying the groundwork for a new mixed-use tower district. This summer, Dean Jones, principal at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty told the local NBC news affiliate, “In the next five years, Denny Way is going to feel a little bit more like Manhattan,” as he shared a video showing 26 high-rise projects currently in the pipeline.
Jones is part of the team tasked with promoting the new Nexus development, a 40-story Weber Thompson–designed condominium tower that broke ground earlier this year and will be completed in 2019. The project is the first high-rise condominium to begin construction downtown since 2012 and consists of a series of stacked boxes, each slightly off-axis from the one below. The tower’s shifting volumes conceal 383 apartments, designed in a variety of configurations, ranging from studio units to multi-bedroom dwellings. As of October, 80 percent of the units had been pre-sold.
Another development by Weber Thompson is located at 970 Denny, a 440-foot-tall mixed-use tower that aims to activate street-level areas along the Denny Way corridor with a pair of low-rise, seven-story tall office and commercial blocks flanking a mid-block tower. These smaller masses are articulated using brick cladding and large expanses of glass. They will contain 15,098 square feet of retail space, with storefronts and the apartment tower’s entrance marked by V-shaped column-supported steel canopies. The tower podium will be capped by a landscaped park, containing a freestanding pavilion structure, with a similar space located at the tower’s stepped apex. The structure will contain 461 apartment units and is being designed to LEED Silver standards. The tower itself is clad in expanses of curtain wall glass that feature operable windows. The complex is currently under construction and is set to open in 2018.
Nearby, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF Architects) are working on a two-building complex: the 11-story Tilt49 office tower and the 41-story AMLI Arc housing tower. The office building will feature 300,000 square feet of space, with the ground floor containing retail. Right next door, the $115-million AMLI Arc tower will contain 393 apartment units, a 509-stall underground parking garage, and amenity spaces on the 12th and 41st floors. The tower will offer different apartments types, including an industrially-inspired model and another unit type with more upscale, “condo-quality finishes.” The residential tower is aiming for LEED Gold certification. Construction is well underway for both buildings and is slated for completion sometime in 2017. The project is being built by Mortenson Construction’s Seattle office.
Lastly, the 41-story tall McKenzie Tower by developer Clise Properties and designed by Graphite Design Group will be located diagonally across from the new Amazon tower complex. It will feature 450 residential units and 8,000 square feet of retail. The elliptical building is designed to maximize views from within each unit, presenting a wide-set gaze over the city. The tower’s shape will also minimize the monolith’s impact on surrounding viewsheds. Like the other schemes mentioned here, the tower will rise out of a low-rise podium and will be clad in glass curtain walls.
These transformative projects portend the growing influence of the region’s technological powerhouses on the built environment. With Amazon and others adding thousands of new jobs at a steady clip, it seems like Seattle-based architects and developers will keep working like this for a long time.
Seattle’s waterfront transformation by James Corner Field Operations prepares to break ground this year
Seattle, Washington’s waterfront redevelopment, an endeavor James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been working on diligently for nearly a decade, is steadily moving closer to being implemented, as the $700 million project heads toward beginning construction this year.
The development cleared a major hurdle in August when supporters of the project garnered over 80 percent of the cast ballots needed to reject an initiative that would have derailed the JCFO scheme. JCFO’s vision for the two-mile-long promenade would stitch together city’s burgeoning downtown with its isolated, post-industrial waterfront, converting the space currently occupied by the Alaskan Way Viaduct into a broad pedestrian-oriented waterfront park and roadway. The Alaskan Way Viaduct, built in 1953, is currently in the process of being replaced by a partially completed underground highway tunnel that would free up the city’s coastline for public recreational activities. The redevelopment will be funded via a new tax levied on downtown businesses and will continue a nationwide trend of replacing or repurposing aging infrastructure with a mix of public amenities and new development.
Andrew tenBrink, a designer at JCFO who has been working on the project since it started in 2010, said the firm had been “struck by the ‘big nature’ of the area,” as it developed a project for a city sitting “on the cusp of the wilderness, between the bay and mountains.”
Aside from creating a new recreational spine for the city’s downtown, the new route will also string together existing cultural destinations along the waterfront like the famed Pike Place Market to the south, the Bassetti Architects–designed Seattle Aquarium at its center, and the Weiss/Manfredi Architects–designed Olympic Sculpture Park to the north. Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture was a landscape architecture consultant for the project.
The aquarium, built in 1977 on the waterfront’s Pier 59, can currently only be reached via a disruptive landscape of viaduct overpasses and parking lots. In the new plan, it will be located at the end of a broad public plaza accessible by a scenic lookout designed in concert with the waterfront scheme, reconnecting it to the city center.
JCFO’s redevelopment plan would also connect to the iconic Olympic Sculpture Park located at the northern edge of the development, connecting the city’s network of bicycle and walking trails, currently divided between north and south, together along the waterfront. TenBrink described the history of the waterfront as something that has “constantly evolved” over its transition from native habitat to industrial area and transportation corridor. In the near future, Seattle’s waterfront will transform once again to become a line between the “pristine nature of Pacific Northwest and a very manufactured (urban) landscape,” said tenBrink.
Another major and partially completed component of the project entails rebuilding an existing seawall used to mitigate Puget Sound’s constantly fluctuating tides. Between epic “king tides,” monthly lunar tides, and other seasonally variable waves, the water’s height can vary by as much as 12 feet, so the design team has deployed specially-designed panels, some codesigned with local artists, to create spots for tidal wildlife to live and grow. The wall also marks the area’s mean, low, and high tides and contains walkway areas with embedded glass blocks that allow for daylight to permeate the water, as to not disrupt sensitive spawning grounds.
The remaining areas that feed into the promenade and roadway will also receive improvements to their streetscapes in order to facilitate the pedestrianization of surrounding areas while also inserting key landscape components.
This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
On an early May day, Perkins+Will Seattle gave The Architect's Newspaper a tour of their new offices in downtown Seattle, the first of their global offices designed to incorporate their in-house healthy materials initiative research. The Seattle office moved east in April from their prior space on First Avenue above the Seattle Art Museum, to Minoru Yamasaki’s 1977 Rainier Tower on Fifth Avenue. The relocation gave Perkins+Will the opportunity to live-test their healthy materials initiative—putting their research on toxic building chemicals into action on themselves. In 2009, Perkins+Will developed a precautionary list of harmful building materials, compiling governmental agency information about building chemicals that may harm our environment and ourselves.
“We wanted our workspace to reflect who we really are, and to some extent use ourselves as a little test lab. Can we walk the walk?” said Ed Palushock, associate and senior project designer at Perkins+Will who heads up the firm’s Material Performance Research Lab.
“There were a bunch of people who did some research and started recognizing, hey, these chairs that we’re putting in the space have flame retardants [in them] that have a fallout for people’s health. Or, we’re using copper on exterior roofs, and noticing some research being done about elevated copper levels in runoff water. Some copper is good, but too much copper is not so good,” said Palushock. “The goal was to take ourselves out of the equation.”
The Perkins+Will Vancouver office led the Seattle office design, working with Perkins+Will’s Seattle team. The precautionary list informed how the firm approached their new space on a micro level: 32 of the 34 products and finishes met the firm’s healthy materials standards. The vetting process involved a bit of investigation, as some product manufacturers’ ingredients lists were proprietary or incomplete. (Two products that didn’t meet the architecture firm’s requirements: A chromium alloy plating process used to lend a chrome finish to products, and the solar shades. The firm found out after installation that the shades contained 15 percent PVC.)
There was a slight up-charge for specifying healthier materials. “But once [these materials] become an industry standard, it will level the playing field,” said Oliver Wuttig, an architectural designer at Perkins+Will. “The more we ask manufacturers about these products, the less it becomes a commoditized item.”
The Seattle office spans two floors. The main office is 16,500 square feet while a lower level houses a 1,400-square-foot materials library and model shop. But even with close to 120 employees working in the office, the main level—with most of the surfaces white and soft gray—is bright and spacious due to an open, square-shaped floor plan. Workstations with employees organized by teams, a corner kitchen, and meeting and conference rooms run along the perimeter with direct access to natural light and views of downtown and Puget Sound. The firm also has phone rooms for privacy. “We sit people together who are working together,” said Palushock. “Every month or every other month there is a switching around in the office.”
At the core are elevators and an entryway featuring white perforated branded metal screens backlit by LEDs. Along the outer core walls, the firm can display projects and hold critiques. There’s also a social component to the design. Each corner of the office is reserved for flexible workspaces—a kitchen in one corner can double as a meeting room for the whole office. “The kitchen engages people and gets them from their desk, said Wuttig.
The sustainable building industry has made headwinds in the past decade—the United States now has an abundance of certification opportunities such as LEED, the Living Building Challenge, and Cradle to Cradle—the presence of toxic chemicals in products is a persistent issue. “We have wiring lined in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but it can contain endocrine disruptors like phthalates and Bisphenol A,” Palushock explained. A safer alternative to PVC may be polyvinyltulene (PVT). But it’s not ready for market. “It’s one thing to design a building in terms of the orientation and use healthy materials, but the question is, what are those healthy materials?” he continued.
Perhaps we lag behind Europe on the healthy materials front because of our legal framework and mentality. As Palushock put it, Europe’s approach is to “prove this material is not harmful” while in the U.S., it’s “safe unless deemed otherwise.”Resources General Contractor: Turner Construction Company Lighting Consultants: Candela Corporation and Stantec Electrical Consultant: Evergreen Electric HVAC, Plumbing Consultant: American Mechanical Corporation