Archive for March, 2008

Oxymoron of the Day: Green Consumer

Consume = use up = unsustainable. Nuff said? Yes, yes, yes, I know, I know, of course it’s a good thing that people are becoming more conscious of the impacts of their purchases. But, call me a curmudgeon (or worse), I just can’t stand marketing verbage like this: “Green Festival, the largest and most authentic […]

First Peek at Amazon’s New SLU Headquarters

[ Boren Ave N., between John St and Harrison St, looking West ] Shown above is the initial concept(pdf) for Amazon’s new headquarters in South Lake Union, to be presented at the Early Design Guidance meeting on April 2. This project owes its existence to a two-block, rezone granted by the City Council last December […]

Walking the Talk on Water

“Water is the new energy.” So says my architect friend Rob Harrison, as quoted in the April issue of Metropolitan Home magazine. It’s a quip that may seem hyperbolic, or perhaps a little too cute. But not if you ask the United Nations. Expect to be hearing a lot more about “water footprint” in the […]

Ahoy There Planning Wonks: Tell Us What’s Good or Bad About Seattle’s Multifamily Zoning Update

[ Diagram illustrating proposed affordable housing height bonus ] The process of updating Seattle’s multifamily zoning code has been underway since 2005, the most recent milestone being the environmental determination of non-significance issued on December 7, 2007. The proposed ordinance will be put before the City Council in Spring of 2008. I was recently reminded […]

Development Memory Hole: Terminal 46

Remember four or five years ago when everyone was hot for Terminal 46? But the Port of Seattle didn’t want to play, so all we’ve got to show for it are these pretty pictures: [ Nitze-Stagen’s vision for Terminal 46; rendering by William Hook ] [ Rendering from Allied Arts 2004 Waterfront Design Charette ] […]

More Affordable Housing at Jackson Place

Construction is about to begin on HomeSight’s 102-unit Pontedera Condominiums and Lofts, rendering above, located at Hiawatha Place and Dearborn St in the Jackson Place neighborhood. Half of the units will be affordable to families earning less than 80% of the area median income, and half will be sold at market rate. The March Jackson […]

Los Angeles, Dubai, and Tent Cities

This is Frank Gehry’s $2 billion vision for Grand Avenue in downtown LA adjacent to the Disney Concert Hall. The project had been stalled by financing setbacks related to the real estate slowdown, but construction is finally set to begin after $100 million of funding was secured from the Royal family of Dubai. Meanwhile, the […]

Big Bad House

Built in 2007, I simply ask the question, why? Unfortunately, this is my generation’s legacy, to surely be looked back upon in disgust. Imagine if at the turn of the century the beautiful neighborhoods that populate Capitol Hill or Queen Anne, as examples, were filled with the abortion of style this house represents. What’s happened? […]

Housing, Political Courage, and Thinking Outside the Box

On Tuesday night’s Housing Forum put on by the Seattle Great City Initiative, a panel consisting of Tony To, Charlie Royer, Maria Barrientos, and Sally Clark participated in an often lively discussion on what Seattle needs to do to meet our housing shortages in a sustainable manner (disclaimer: I’m Vice-Chair of the SGCI Steering Committee).  There was some great perspectives […]

The Devils and Details of Belltown

[ Site 17 North, at Western Ave. and Wall St. in Belltown ] I like it. Because, unlike Belltown Court (see previous post), there is life and vision in its design, from the massing and form, down to the detailing. A big reason why so many people react negatively to new development is the lack […]

Belltown Preference Survey

Choose one: The new Belltown… or the old Belltown…

Gray (Affordable Housing for Artists)

Artspace, the folks who developed Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square, are just finishing their second Seattle project, Hiawatha Lofts, a block southeast of Rainier Ave. and Dearborn St. The building houses 61 low-income artists lofts, 5000 square feet of retail space, and 54 underground parking stalls. Designed by SMR Architects, who specialize in […]

The Unsettling of America

by Wendell Berry, published 31 years ago: ‘It is no doubt impossible to live without thought of the future; hope and vision can live nowhere else. But the only possible guarantee of the future is responsible behavior in the present. When supposed future needs are used to justify misbehavior in the present, as is the […]

How Greatness In Architecture is Born

Seattle Coffee Works Buys Rights to Hammering Man

Not. But would anyone be that surprised if at some point in the not too distant future it was officially renamed the Starbucks Hammering Man? Regarding Seattle Coffee Works: they are serving up some serious espresso. On that funky block on Pike between 1st and 2nd, right next door to the obnoxious 50’s rock and […]


[ Rendering: Group Architect ] Like a hornet. Like a crayola crayon. Pure, saturated, unapologetic yellow. Five uninterrupted stories of it, no less. And, OMG, it’s right next to traditional brick apartment buildings on both sides. Seattle, are you going to stand for it, this boldness, this blatant disrespect for context? This happy yellow thing […]

Silly Condo Names

Here’s another Ballard monstrosity just being completed on 24th, right next to the huge hole where the QFC used to be. It’s silly name, NO-MA, is supposed to mean “North of Market.” Ask yourself this. How plainly stupid would you feel telling people you lived in a building called NO-MA in the first place? But […]


That is some sweet etched glass creeping up the side of the Olive 8 Hyatt Hotel/condo project at 8th and Olive downtown. The fade of the etch makes it look like the building is framed with massive white tubes — I like it. When completed, the 39-story tower’s relatively high floor-to-floor spacing will push it […]

Intelligence and the Environment

Pb Elemental is on Fire

But will they go down in flames? Based on their web portfolio, the design/build firm has yet to produce a building more than three stories tall. Yet within the past month they have unveiled plans for a 440-foot residential tower, as well as the 24-story hotel/condo project shown in the rendering above. As for midrise, […]