Boom Tonight’s Design Reviews: The Good, the Bland, and the Mystery
posted by April 2 at 14:45 PMon
Back to the Drawing Board, Amazon
The proposed design for Amazon’s fifth office building in South Lake Union is fine—for a market-rate apartment building. But for part of a massive complex on five blocks that will define a neighborhood, the preliminary designs look boring, lifeless, typical, and cheap.
Callison Architecture, Inc.
For the record, I’ve also defended certain uses of unattractive and inexpensive buildings. And to the credit of Amazon and Vulcan (which is developing the property for Amazon), these buildings are at the cutting edge of environmentally responsible devlopment. That’s commendable. But as one of the city’s most influential institutions and a beneficiary of Seattle’s goodwill, Amazon should create a landmark that will be a gold standard to which other great buildings in Seattle are compared. Amazon should define the neighborhood with something inspirational. The limitation to 12 stories – as permitted by a generous zoning package recently passed by the city council – is no excuse not to think big. The VA building on Beacon Hill, where some of Amazon’s operations are currently run, is an example of a non-skyscraper with phenomenal design. The UW School of Law and the old Sears building, home of Starbucks, also prove that impressive design needn’t be part of the skyline.
Callison Architecture, Inc.
Now, mind you, these are only preliminary designs for the brick-colored building. “So don’t give more weight to what’s in the package than you’ve seen right now. We’ve got a long way to go,” says a staff member of Callison Architects who asked not to be named. However, the white and tan buildings are further along in the design process, he said, yet those, too, induce the same chasm-like yawning as the red building. It’s not too late to turn this run-of-the-mill pablum into a legacy. Godspeed, Amazon.
The design review meeting is tonight at 6:30 p.m. in room 1 of the Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 1st Avenue West.
I used to cut through the parking lot on 34th Avenue between E Union Street and E Spring Street on my bike as a kid, and go tearing up the alley. Happy as those memories are, I’m happier to see the lot get developed into a three-story, mixed-use building, containing office space, ground-level retail, and a 3000-square-foot “artist/studio dwelling” that consumes the entire top floor.
Madrona’s hub has blossomed in the past decade, and this vine-veiled building will fill in an empty bed in the garden. Tonight’s meeting, for the design-review board to provide a recommendation based on previous designs, is open to the public at 8:00 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Yesler Community Center, 917 E Yesler Way.
Dept. of Flying Pigs
Anyone willing to develop either of the lots that have sat vacant for years on 23rd Avenue E and E Madison Street with something – anything – is good in my book. That part of town desperately cries out for eyes on the street and pedestrian activity that involves more than slinking down the street to buy crack.
Sven Larsen of Larsen Architects is designing the building for Le Madison, LLC, and he was kind enough to send me this massing of the proposed design.
Good on ya, Larsen. He says the building will contain retail on the ground floor and 29-31 apartments above. An early design guidance meeting is tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Yesler Community Center, 917 E Yesler Way.
One more after the jump.
High Tide at West Lake Union
The proposed development on Dexter Avenue North and Lee Street further confirms the status of arterials along West Lake Union as a burgeoning strip. This proposal, by Pioneer Property Group, would be eight stories tall, containing five live-work units, and 53 residential units.
More information is over here. Tonight’s design-review is at 8:00 p.m. in room 1 of the Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 1st Avenue West. No renderings or word back from the architects. So mysterious.