Glassy!

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 to 455 feet, which will make it the tallest residential tower in Seattle, edging out 2nd and Pine by a mere 15 feet.

Like the 1 Hotel and Residences (which has been put on hold), this project is all about luxury. But unlike the 1, it makes no claims about being green — I couldn’t find a single mention of the word on the web site. Apparently the Olive 8 developers do not believe that green is a worthwhile marketing tool for luxury housing. That’s unfortunate, but perhaps more honest than pretending that tacking on a few green features can make up for the massive environmental footprint of the lifestyles upon which such a building depends.

13 Responses to “Glassy!”

  1. dorian gray

    Green doesn’t sell. Green gimmicks sell however. Nobody knows the difference between LEED Silver, Platinum, Certified or Built Green. Solar panels dont pay themselves off until about 7 years out. They have a lifespan of about 6 years and cost a money to dispose of. Solar panels don’t even produce enough energy to rotate themselves for orienting to the sun -they need an outside powersource for it. The LEED certification process alone costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to do and there is no guarantee the test will come back with the level of certification you’ve labored for. The only LEED points that pay themselves off usually aren’t visible and hence buyers aren’t willing to pay for. Throw up a green roof however and people go crazy when it has minimal impact compared to what 350 units of thermal heating would save for the environment -which would be totally hidden and quite expensive. So in the future, when you use intelligent and environment and marketing in the same bit think twice. The joke is on the public over this green craze at the moment.

  2. Rob A

    For what it is worth, I believe Olive 8 is shooting for either LEED Silver. They definitely made some sacrifices because of it – for example, instead of using gas fireplaces, they are using more efficient electric w/ holographic flames. I asked why, and they mentioned it was to avoid a second exterior vent per unit (first being for the kitchen), something to help towards the LEED designation.

    That said, I am glad they are marketing the project for what it is – luxury living in the heart of downtown – vs. throwing out a bunch of green hyperbole a la ‘1′.

    In any regards, thanks for the photo (and the great blog!). I think this is going to be a wonderful building when completed, and I really like how its coming along.

  3. Steve

    “That’s unfortunate, but perhaps more honest than pretending that tacking on a few green features can make up for the massive environmental footprint of the lifestyles upon which such a building depends.”

    Out of curiosity, what makes you say there’s a massive environmental footprint of the lifestyles? The environmental costs of constructing the building? The assumption that anyone living in such luxury housing probably flies a lot and/or buys a lot of goods from all over the world? Something else?

  4. danb

    DG, I sort of agree in general, but PV panels last a lot longer than 6 years — the typical warranty is 20 to 25 years.

    Rob A, yes I should have realized that they would need to go for LEED to get the height bonus.

    Steve, that topic is big enough for another blog post. Yes, in short I meant that luxury living is not sustainable. It can be hard to get the meaning across when trying to keep it super concise for a blog post. I also think that a building like Olive 8 is not the best thing for the social side of sustainability…

  5. Rob A

    Regarding sustainability – which is more sustainable: living in a luxury condo downtown or living in a luxury home in the suburbs (or even in Madison Park)? Surely the former, and by a large measure at that… I dont think we are at, or will ever be at, the point where luxury in of itself needs to be completely abandoned for the sake of sustainability. If history has proven anything, we find a way. Always have and always will. It might not get here as fast, or in the exact shape, as we want, but it will happen all the same.

  6. Matt the Engineer

    DG, I hereby revoke your license to use numbers. It’s clear you don’t know what you’re doing.

    Lifespan of 6 years: see dan’s comment.

    Don’t produce enough energy to rotate themselves: Do you have any idea what you’re talking about? Rotating solar usually uses external power, but that’s because otherwise they’d be facing the wrong way in the morning. The rotating motors use a small fraction of a Watt.

    Leed certification costs hundreds of thousands of dollars: Please add me to your next leed certified project. I’ll work for half that.

  7. AlisonVG

    Maybe it’s even greener than you think – they got a portion of the height bonus by conserving hundreds of acres of rural open space: http://dnr.metrokc.gov/dnrp/press/2006/1109TDR-olive8.htm

  8. B. W. Davis

    I think the application of using etched glass to create the illusion of more structure looks cheap. However, if this construction practice is more environmentally conservative, I support it.

  9. danb

    BWD: there’s nothing environmentally beneficial about the etched glass — I just think it looks cool, and I don’t thing the architects were trying to fool anyone about the building structure.

    AVG: thanks for pointing out the TDR. It’s great that Olive 8 took advantage of that program.

    MTE: As you say, definitely not hundreds of thousands for LEED documentation, but easily $50k for a high-rise building, which is significant. The cost of LEED documentation is definitely an issue smaller projects that don’t have the overhead.

    RA: Of course dense luxury housing is more sustainable than sprawling luxury housing. But the bottom line is luxury housing means more space used and greater resource consumption. I’m not saying luxury should be outlawed, but if we are serious about creating a sustainable city, luxury condos should be pretty low on the priority list.

  10. Steve

    To harp on the luxury condos point: One argument I’ve heard for luxury condos is that, given that the number 1 factor in where companies relocate is CEO commute time, it makes sense to make the central city as glamorous as possible. That is, if the CEO lives downtown, the company is probably based downtown and will stay based downtown, which makes for much more sustainable transportation.

    I’m not sure how much credence to give this argument, but it’s interesting…

  11. Rob A

    BTW, Olive 8 does includes a list of all of their green features on their site. Here is a link to the PDF: http://www.olive8.com/greenliving/green_living_at_olive_8.pdf

    Despite your misplaced criticism, it seems that it will be one of the greener buildings in Seattle to date. So kudos to them!

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