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Monday, June 2, 2008

What’s on Second?

posted by on June 2 at 11:39 AM

The most mind-boggling thing about the parking lot on 2nd Avenue and Pike Street is that there even is a parking lot on 2nd Avenue and Pike Street. This ideal downtown crossroads has been underused—and budding with potential—practically forever.

Greg Smith, developer and Principal of Urban Visions, had plans for the site a couple years ago, before downtown was rezoned to allow taller buildings. But last week, Smith was back before the city’s downtown design-review board to present a bolder vision for a geometric, two-tone tower that will stand 440 feet tall. It’s called the Candela Hotel and Residences.

candella_rendering_se_view.jpg

candela_rendering.jpg

Olsen Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects

“We recognize the intersection as one of the most important in the city,” Smith said. Bravely, the architects disregarded a design guideline that requests new buildings relate to the immediate architectural context—because, really, even one Newmark building is too many—in favor of adding something unique to the skyline. Portions of the pearly tower cantilever out over the rest of the building’s frame, and an arm of the hotel juts unexpectedly away from the body. However, the building encounters its greatest obstacles at the street level.

More after the jump.

Zoning rules for that corner require vehicles to enter the parking garage from the alley on Pike Street. However, according to Tyler Myers, who introduced himself as the guy building the IGA grocery store on the other half of the block, about 12,000 pedestrians per day walk along the sidewalk between Second and Third Avenues. Allowing more car traffic there would clog the alley, which is needed for deliveries to the grocery store and Wild Ginger, and create “a pretty dangerous situation” for pedestrians, he said.

candela_ground_floor.jpg

The blocky red area on the left represents a restaurant on Pike Street. The greenish-brown horizontal strip along Second Avenue represents the plantings that obscure views to the lobby and hallways.

The design review board, in turn, recommended an exception to the rules: allowing the Candela’s parking garage to be accessed via a ramp on Second Avenue. To accommodate the parking ramp, the architects have chosen to eliminate almost all retail or restaurant space along Second Avenue (there is a restaurant space on Pike Street). Why should that matter? Pedestrian activity at this intersection is the reason Smith and others recognize that corner has citywide significance. “That’s where the activity happens—at the pedestrian level,” said architect Tom Kundig.

RSS icon Comments

1

the is the first archetecture post that made me go *oooooooooooooou*

Posted by linus | June 2, 2008 11:46 AM
2

That looks like some brick there in the 1st pic, so that's good. Smoked gray, please.

I'm sick of glass exoskeletons. They aren't the bees knees of architecture. Oh how I miss concrete.

Unrelated--I generally steer clear from 3rd-1st for reasons mentioned nowhere in this post.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 2, 2008 11:49 AM
3

This looks like a building that Cloverfield has almost, but not quite, toppled over. WIll it have a hot trust fund girl somewhere near the top who needs saving?

Posted by Big Sven | June 2, 2008 11:52 AM
4

considering the number of renderings that have been released for this lot, expect the final product to look much different- if it gets built at all.

Posted by happy renter | June 2, 2008 11:52 AM
5

A large hypodermic needle shaped structure would be more in tune with the location.

Posted by kinaidos | June 2, 2008 12:02 PM
6

(1) I kinda like the general look of the building.

(2) I know we are all supposed to hate cars, but reality dictates that at least some of the condo residents and hotel guests will have cars. It needs to have a parking garage of some sort. There needs to be a parking ramp somewhere. Where do you suggest they put it?

(3) I've never understood the whole concept of mixing a hotel/condo. I'm quite content with condo living, but can't think of a single reason I'd want to live in a condo that was half-hotel. Anyone know why this has become more popular in recent years?

Posted by Reverse Polarity | June 2, 2008 12:03 PM
7

@5

Exactly.

And, hey, has anyone ever tried to shoot up with the tip of the space needle?

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 2, 2008 12:03 PM
8

Broken record time: what's happening at the street? The giant ice cubes are cute from a mile away, but ultimately the only thing that matters is the street frontage. From the pic it looks like it angles away from the corner to form a plaze. BAD, BAD, BAD. That corner is passed by thousands of pedestrians a day; the architect and developer OWE IT TO THEM to be an amenity, not an oppressive device.

Posted by Fnarf | June 2, 2008 12:05 PM
9

I wish that developers and the architects they hire would prioritize the physical context of a building ahead of its stand-alone functionality or how it rates as a work of abstract sculpture. Buildings that look pretty at a distance--if you even go for the all-glass look, which I don't--are worthless if they drive people away at street level.

Yeah, it's better than a parking lot. But really, we should be way past the point where that's our standard of acceptable urban design.

Posted by Cascadian | June 2, 2008 12:22 PM
10

I second Fnarf. Furthermore, the proposed building is freaking ugly - it looks like a few shoeboxes stacked on each other. Yuck. Seattlites should strive for something that looks less Darth Vaderish.

Posted by Providence | June 2, 2008 12:22 PM
11

@6 Because the condo owners get the services of the hotel, they can sign up for housekeeping services, use the conceirge, and I think in some cases they can even get room service. Plus I think there are people who will check in on the condo while the owners are away.

Me, I'd never go for it. Towering Inferno made way too big an impression on me.

Posted by PopTart | June 2, 2008 12:25 PM
12

build it now. stop fucking around.

just make sure it has rain canopies for the dealers & users. wouldn't want them to get wet.

and to the homeless person who took a giant shit on the pike place market hillclimb this morning outside the exit door of my garage: there's an automatic toilet 100 yards from where you had your nasty ass blowout.

Posted by max solomon | June 2, 2008 12:29 PM
13

I'm sorry, I didn't read the second page of the story when I commented. Sounds like some people have noticed the same thing I did.

The parking garage and delivery access problems they're describing are called "traffic" and are not inimical to city life. Blank walls on one of the most important blocks in the city ARE. They should be told "we're not even going to look at this until you fix it -- sidewalk access to retail on all sides, and preferably second-floor retail as well".

Posted by Fnarf | June 2, 2008 12:40 PM
14

#13

My thoughts exactly.

Posted by tabletop_joe | June 2, 2008 12:52 PM
15

Nope, sorry. I would prefer a parking lot to a structure that has such minimal interaction with the street level.

Back to the drawing board, folks! We know you can do better than this.

Posted by Hernandez | June 2, 2008 12:53 PM
16

For folks worried about interaction with the street, this will only cause more alarm:

The ground floor facing Second Avenue, under the current proposal, is partially masked by nine-foot-deep shrubs between the sidewalk and the windows, violating a design guideline for "transparency." Several of the windows look in only a few feet on another wall, rather than a lobby or business. According the design board’s Wilmot Gilland, the entrances seemed too narrow “should be wider.” But in the end, the design board seemed mostly satisfied with the plan, which prompted city planer Jess Harris to clarify: “Are you supporting this concept—a departure from transparency?”

“I think it’s a good concept… I’m concerned about the lack of transparency,” replied Matt Allert, a member of the design review board, who noted, “I want to see what they do with it.”

Posted by Dominic Holden | June 2, 2008 1:00 PM
17

Sorry, max, that was me outside your garage. Last night's shelter dinner banged on the door loud and clear this morning. Hung around that auto-toilet waiting for it to be vacant, but when my innards got out of hand I had to duckwalk as fast and as far as I could to find somewhere else. Didn't make it far enough. By the time it was all over I was too embarrassed to ask for help cleaning the hideous mess, so pulled up my hoodie and ran. Hope your car tires cleaned up okay, sir.

Posted by irregular irv | June 2, 2008 1:02 PM
18

Dominic. What was demolished to make way for the vacant lot parking lot years ago? Check the county archive at Bellevue Community College to see if perhaps this hole wasn't an accident, but part of a fucked up urban renewal scheme decades ago, now replaced by a new urban renewal scheme...

Posted by Trevor | June 2, 2008 1:17 PM
19

Strangely I agree with Fnarf @8.

Very bad idea, sadly.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 2, 2008 1:18 PM
20

#8 and #19. it looks from the plan that the building does not flee, but rather holds the corner.

Posted by werkbund | June 2, 2008 1:24 PM
21

Yes, you're right. I wrote that before seeing the plan. My bad.

But if there's no retail, it's still a total fail.

Posted by Fnarf | June 2, 2008 1:27 PM
22

#21

Yeah, the design board needs to push to get some businesses in there. It's across from, what? The Turf? Just about anything could go in that spot and thrive, as long as it's not another drug store. Big expanses of windows would also be nice.

Posted by tabletop_joe | June 2, 2008 1:34 PM
23

dominic, if this hideous edifice is ever built, i shall personally treat you to dinner at whatever overpriced restaurant situated in same structure. and then we'll make fun of the rich yuppies.

Posted by scary tyler moore | June 2, 2008 1:58 PM
24

In the first picture, the corner window on the white building with the peaked roof above it is my office window. This building would unfortunately block my spectacularly complete views of the Washington Mutual Tower and WaMu Center.


Slightly off topic: does anyone else think the OPUS building going up on Second (shown partially complete here) is the ugliest thing ever? There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the design of the white elements. I realize they're going for a Two Union square thing, but Jesus. The pattern of the multicolored glass makes no sense either. That and it's covered by these ugly tiny white dots. I seriously hope they're not finished with the outside, because god damn it's terrible.

Posted by w7ngman | June 2, 2008 1:59 PM
25

There should should have been a [/whine] tag after that gratuitous complaining in the first paragraph there.

Posted by w7ngman | June 2, 2008 2:39 PM
26

Why is the open parking lot on that corner any more egregious than the Turf restaurant and above grade parking lot on the corner directly across the street?

Posted by twee | June 2, 2008 2:41 PM
27

#26, or the run-down, vacant piece of crap across 2nd from Turf. The only thing that corner really has going for it is the condos on the southwest corner, and even those are blah. I've noticed that while the retail space is leased, what seems to be office space directly above it has been vacant for quite awhile.

Posted by w7ngman | June 2, 2008 2:48 PM
28

I've been beat to it, but...

Pretty, ridiculously transparent-looking renderings + iffy relationship to the street = FAIL

It's got a nice shape, but that's all.

Posted by k | June 2, 2008 2:53 PM
29

w7ngman @ 24 - want to know why the OPUS building looks like a piece of cheap crap?

Two words: Weber+Thompson.

I rest my case.

Posted by Hernandez | June 2, 2008 3:24 PM
30

I don't know.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 2, 2008 3:36 PM
31

and it'll be sooooo convenient to the Turf Restaurant; fine meals, congenial dinner companions AND you can pay your utility bills there!!!

Posted by michael strangeways | June 2, 2008 3:53 PM
32

I love the saturated blue on 1521! (Opus) Beautiful building.

This building is really shaping up nicely. As has been said here, it would be a total waste if it didn't provide enough street level retail. This is the wrong place to skimp on that.

I like the green in the second rendering. Seattle needs more green glass, like 333 West Wacker Drive in Chicago.

http://www.december.com/places/chi/images/333wack.jpg

http://lh4.ggpht.com/aritem/RsIssRPEjbI/AAAAAAAAA4M/4s070z7GZgY/elevated.jpg?imgmax=720

Posted by Cale | June 2, 2008 4:02 PM
33

I want to meet whoever designed the outside and hear their reasoning and/or smack them upside the head.

Posted by w7ngman | June 2, 2008 4:06 PM
34

That was Re: the OPUS building.

Posted by w7ngman | June 2, 2008 4:09 PM
35

A simple solution for pedestrian amenity/interface -- establish Mr. Poe in a small storefront, seat him behind a counter, post a sign outside saying "Psychiatric Help 5¢ -- The Doctor is In" and throw open the door.

A city heals...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 2, 2008 4:36 PM
36

@35 - I think he charges $5 ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 2, 2008 4:40 PM
37

That used to be our secret Showbox parking lot, but since we moved to the city, fuck it. That building looks cool, but I'd like to see street-level retail that's actually something people would like-- less smoke shops and snotty galleries, more....?

And hotel-condos are SO Bellevue.

Posted by Jessica | June 2, 2008 5:09 PM
38

I say someone with DPD should take a black marker in the manner of so many embittered old guard fashion designers and slash through the parts of the plan pertaining to the street level in front of every major designer in the city.

"NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE IT LIKE THIS. DO IT OVER."

Floors 3-(whatever) are great, though.

Posted by AJ | June 2, 2008 8:00 PM
39

#2...where are you seeing brick? Looks like another glass wall to me... I'm not opposed to glass, but I agree that seeing some different shades would be appealing. Just don't replicate the Olive 8 cheesy ass pipework design. I thought I'd like that building, but now each time I pass it I cringe. FUGLY!

Posted by dod | June 2, 2008 8:48 PM
40

@30:

THIRD BASE!

Posted by COMTE | June 2, 2008 10:18 PM
41

I think it looks good. Like the New Museum in Manhattan but taller. And, wait, why does a parking ramp need to take up an ENTIRE street front? Im confused.

Posted by JesseJB | June 3, 2008 9:29 AM

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