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Monday, October 13, 2008

Pb Elemental’s Lead Balloon Bursts

posted by on October 13 at 13:04 PM


Pb Elemental, the development firm behind some of Seattle’s most daring and innovative towers and houses, laid off 16 of its 50 employees last Friday. The layoffs are across the board, including architects, project managers, and adminstrative staff.

“It makes us heartsick,” says Michael Boyd, a spokesman. “This is a regrettable thing that we did but a necessary business decision.” He cites the ailing economy and credit markets for the layoffs, but he wouldn’t name the specific projects that may have been canceled or postponed. “We’re not breaking that out at this point,” he says, adding, “The residential market is tough.”

Pb Elemental has proposed a series of delightfully boxy town houses in the greater Seattle area, especially in the Central District. Many are already built. The company has teased us with the tapered Trophy Building, an ambitious residential tower that the company “moved away from,” and the unapologetically stark I.D. Building, a mixed-use hotel. That building is delayed due to rezoning, he says, but is still on the table.

“I should point out that we don’t foresee any additional layoffs being necessary,” says Boyd.

RSS icon Comments


I'm curious if Pb is still planning on the great addition to the old Mike's LaCantina in South Park. Anyone from Pb care to chime in?

Posted by sam | October 13, 2008 1:12 PM

Where is that house? It was in Dwell magazine and I tried to drive around and find it on Saturday but couldn't. Does anyone know where it is?

Posted by Carollani | October 13, 2008 1:24 PM

Hm, unsurprising. I live on the same block as some Pb Elemental units. Two price drops on the half unsold ones that have been available since early summer (I think?). But alas, it's a similar story with other housing nearby.

Posted by nstop | October 13, 2008 1:24 PM

12th just north of john, i think

Posted by thickturd | October 13, 2008 1:24 PM

Really? The magazine said it was in Mount Baker...

Thanks for the tip, I'll check it out.

Posted by Carollani | October 13, 2008 1:27 PM

that house is just north of 12th and john

Posted by john | October 13, 2008 1:28 PM

That is a beautiful house—but I'm not sure I'd want to live in it. Wouldn't curtains ruin the effect? And without curtains, isn't your whole life on display 24/7? And I'd hate to have to constantly keep the house clean for fear of what the folks driving, biking, and walking by might think.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 13, 2008 1:36 PM

That sucks. This town could use some more good architecture.

Posted by Sir Learnsalot | October 13, 2008 1:36 PM

that place is just a block and a half south of chez scary.

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 13, 2008 1:40 PM

@7, Yessir, my Little Corporal stands straight to attention everytime I see that house. It's phenomenal.

As to the issues of privacy:

1. I'm sure that a suitably interesting window treatment -- gauzy, diffusing fabric versus full-on, white pleated common curtains -- would work just fine.

2. In a more advanced urban setting (NYC, say, or many cities in Europe), such concerns regarding privacy and cleanliness/order are considered passe. They are used to living on top of one another for hundreds of years, so these bourgeois concerns have dissipated.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | October 13, 2008 1:43 PM


You may be getting the Cap Hill house mixed up with the Mt. Baker one, still for sale:

It is at
3844 37th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Posted by meks | October 13, 2008 1:51 PM

Oh that sucks. Quality is always the first to go in times like these.

Posted by raisedbywolves | October 13, 2008 2:00 PM

dan, there's a great story about mies van der rohe's tall black towers on the LSD in chicago, that he was distraught at people having their own windowblinds and shades at different heights and different configurations. it messed with the austere look of the glass and steel facade. the next time he made a similar tower he specced out window treatments that were uniform and only allowed two settings--open and closed.

Posted by thickturd | October 13, 2008 2:11 PM

Delightfully boxy? Really? Aren't pretty much all cheapo crappy structures boxy? Isn't boxy a bad thing?

Posted by hillpagan | October 13, 2008 2:13 PM

the architecture massacre isn't just @ pB. EVERY firm in town is laying off. typical for any recession.

16/50, or 32%, is a harsh toke, tho. projects are on hold across the board in every market - the credit freeze has real consequences.

Posted by max solomon | October 13, 2008 2:21 PM

you are wrong.

we aren't letting anyone go.

and i know a few other firms that just hired folks.

but yeah, residential is hurting.

Posted by yo mama | October 13, 2008 6:43 PM

thickturd, the house in dwell IS in mount baker, you are just getting it confused with the one in the photograph above (located @ 12th and John) because EVERY PB ELEMENTAL PROJECTS LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME!!!

Posted by dirty dee | October 13, 2008 7:25 PM

dee, my child, you are the one confused: the house shown above is located in capitol hill, and is located at 12th and john, and is the same house in dwell...different photography style.

dwell mislabeled the house. have a good nap.

Posted by dirty dee's mom | October 14, 2008 8:49 AM

go back to architecture school you frat boy capitalists, this time maybe you'll finish your degree

Posted by missy | October 15, 2008 7:29 PM

missy, don't be a hater.

Posted by capitalist democrat | October 17, 2008 1:12 PM

why critique a house when the article is about a company that in this economic climate had to resort to layoffs? It sucks that Pb has to be put on blast about their current economic situation, but it happening at a lot of places not just start ups,Mitun. But for those who love rubbing the salt. cheers, way to keep it classy seattle. I'm sure those who did loose their job love to hear how you hate their work.

Posted by jerry | October 17, 2008 8:30 PM

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