Boom Tonight’s Design Guidance Meetings
posted by March 11 at 13:20 PMon
Props to the developers and architects who submitted proposals for three brand new projects before their first design-guidance meetings tonight, and much love to the Department of Planning and Development that made them do it. Folks can now see, in detail, plans before they attend. Heck, this may even inspire more residents to show up.
If you envision a bustling and visually appealing metropolis—one that doesn’t spill with ranch homes to the town of Index, you should go. Your voice may be necessary to counter meeting-goers who are there to carry out grandpapa’s final wish to limit Seattle’s future construction to single-story brick houses, preserve the precious, precious parking lots, and to tear down that new-fangled space thingie. The bravest among you might even challenge a design-review board’s well-meaning advice to build something that was perfectly suited for Seattle in 1942.
So here, dear Sloggers, are the design reviews de jour.
Eighth Avenue and Stewart Street
Remember those cold mornings in line at the Greyhound Bus Station, standing in a pool of transients’ urine? Sweet yesteryear. Those memories are all you’ll have after R. C. Hedreen Co. builds a 51-story hotel and Convention Center expansion.
This is a superior use for the block, no doubt, but can Seattle’s market support another skyscraper? “It might be somewhat of a slowing down for high-rise condos, although that market is still chugging along,” says Shauna Decker, principal architect of Spencer Decker Architects. But the hospitality market, she says, is strong as ever. “We have the smallest amount of convention space [of major cities] on the West Coast, so people are interested in increasing the capacity of the Washington Convention Center.”
Based on this initial massing proposal, it’s impossible to determine if the tower will make a statement in Seattle’s skyline. But the base will be certain improvement for the sidewalk.
The proposal shows that the two buildings will be joined by a promising atrium, which is unfortunately also referred to as a “hall of light.” Ugh. But the worst term in their otherwise excellent proposal is the always-trite use of “water feature.” Which brings us to a pressing question: Isn’t the term “water feature” just a super-pretentious way of saying “fountain” or “pond”? Or are there legitimate uses? (UPDATE: Decker emails to let me know the “water feature” will collect rainwater and circulate it to the building, so it’s neither a fountain nor a pond. Duly noted, but I will forever find “water features” to be ambiguous and loathsome.) In linguistic redemption, an open-air aperture to the sky is referred to as an oculus. I love octopus…
Rainier Avenue South and South Walden Street
It’s flat Albert… razing Chubby and Tubby. Owner of the Rainier Valley site, South East Effective Development is proposing 58 affordable “workforce” apartments on the arterial corner and 10 more units across the alley on Claremont Avenue. The project is funded through one of four grants for low-income housing recently awarded by the city. Nice work.
A funny thing, though. The design proposal proclaims it the “Chubby and Tubby Workforce Housing” and prominently displays the logo, but project manager Diana Keys reveals that Chubby and Tubby isn’t actually involved with the development. Not at all? “No, no at all,” she says. “We call it Chubby and Tubby because it’s a landmark,” says Keys. “It’s just a placeholder name.” Chubby and Tubby, the namesakes, died years ago, and their respective sons sold the site for use as a warehouse, she says.
15th Avenue South and South Oregon Street
This exquisite parking lot is located next to the former Christian Restoration Center, which is now vacant. In its place, a four-story mixed-use building with up to three retail units at the ground level and 30 residential units above has been proposed by Rudeen Development. No decision yet on condos or apartments, according to Carlos De La Torre of architecture firm H+DLT Collaborative.
The location is a crossroads between Beacon Hill and Columbia City, so like an evangelical density zealot, I’m pro-life—for this intersection. However, this design is stillborn. “It is purposefully boring,” explains De La Torre. “This is the early design, and there are very specific rules to early design guidance. [The design-review board members] don’t want to see a lot of design,” he says. “As architects, we have something in our heads and we’re very excited, and we’d like to get people geared toward that goal.” Attend the meeting and goad them on.