Pb Micro-Ghost Towns

Pb Elemental cranked out a remarkable number of progressive projects like this one with the big orange wall on 23rd Ave.   Alas, their timing was just a wee bit off.  The three Central District projects in these photos were looking pretty lonely last time I checked.  It’s too bad, cause Pb pushed design innovation much further than most in Seattle, particularly with the creative use of site.  But now that the recession is over, perhaps these bad boys will start filling up.

[ 23rd and Dearborn ]


[ MLK and Norman ]


[ 21st and Union ]

19 Responses to “Pb Micro-Ghost Towns”

  1. Joe G


  2. Chris

    the recession is not over, unfortunately, for all intents and purposes. Stimulus funds juiced the GDP to barely snap it back into the positive range, but its highly questionable if that will hold. Regardless, considering we need 2.0% growth just to hold employment rates steady, jobs will continue to be shed for sometime.

    nice looking townhouses, though.

  3. Dell Jung

    The first project has one unit occupied and the orther two show pending on the MLS. I think the one on MLK hasn’t finished construction yet so maybe it will sell when it’s done. The last one, I think being commercial only will take 10-12 months to fill.

  4. Matt the Engineer

    I hear the architects at Pb all went to work in a granite quarry until the economy heats up again.

  5. Rainier Valley Guy

    There’s a Pb project under construction in my neighborhood located just north of 36th Ave S & S Charlestown. Seven units, three detached. Exteriors seem done and the drywall and finishing is under way right now. The project has been moving very slowly but it is moving along. They haven’t shown up on the MLS yet. Boxy and modern and right on the edge between really ugly and really cool, like a lot of Pb’s stuff. I hope it turns out well for them.

  6. Jay

    Dan (and anyone else at HAC)-

    We just created a hand-picked list of the top architects in Seattle. Check it out at: http://seattlearchitectslist.com/

    This list was born out of the idea that there was no real way to browse some of the great architecture happening here in the Northwest and is meant to provide clients, architects, and people in the construction industry a visual resource for the top firms. The list is weighted for residential design.

    – Jay Dokken

  7. Cherry

    @Jay #6: “Great architecture” in YOUR opinion…you should specify this.

    And another list of supposed great architects compiled by a bunch of blow-hards who think they have something valuable (their supposedly intelligent artistic opinions) to give to the design community.

    Yes, let’s give all of the work to your proposed “top firms”. Everyone else sucks.


  8. Sabina Pade

    I’m not allergic to warm and fuzzy, but I do greatly appreciate Pb’s deftly balanced compositions of unashamedly bare materials.

    If I lived in Seattle, and had the cash to spare, these are structures I would love to help make a little less lonely.

  9. ktstine

    i like pb’s townhomes – much better than the faux craftsman and i think they use good exterior materials.

    i am less worried about their finished product sitting on the market than i am about their vacant properties all over seattle. there was a time when pb had an enormous amount of work in the pipeline, much of which has been shelved or is on hold. in the meantime, their empty lots gather trash and become neighborhood blight. i hope they aren’t too busy talking to bankers to take care of all the property they own…

  10. Detsea

    As you mentioned, yes they ‘cranked out a number of projects’. But I’d like to point out that most PB elemental work is not progressive. They have branded a style of architecture and do exactly what you said, ‘crank it out’. They were a cash machine doing the same thing over and over again, and they failed doing it.

    I do appreciate some of their work and the nice detailing that is done on many of their single family homes. However, most of their multifamily projects are overly trendy and built using extremely cheap materials.

    There are 2 reasons that their firm went from 40+ employees down to 3 within a matter of months. 1. their business model failed. 2. their tacky trend was beaten to death.

    I am an architect. I do understand design. PB has done some nice work. I don’t like to see people fail, but maybe this is a wake up call for those guys to try something different. They are no doubt smart designers. Let’s see if they can rebound from this and become progressive.

  11. Timmy&Jimmy

    It takes years to master space, form and materials. The “kids” who started pbElemental have a long way to go in order to produce intelligent, sophisticated, useful, beautiful buildings.

    The fact that their projects are sitting empty – not to mention they most likely lost their clients alot of money -(who would hire these untested designers anyway? their work looks like it’s straight out of architecture school), is a testament not to the deflated housing market, but to their utter lack of design talent.

  12. Detsea

    i concur with Timmy&Jimmy(11) and cherry(7).

    jay(6) – your list is stupid. go home and cry yourself to sleep. i might read the list if koolhaas made it, but not you.

  13. jc

    Really? People are still talking about Pb?

    They’ve been done and over with for a while. They haven’t done anything original or new in along time and that what they’ve done isn’t selling (and wasn’t even when the economy was good). A few great projects. Then a lot of repetitious crap.

    hugeasscity should move on. everybody else did.

  14. Chris

    There was nothing inherently faulty in their designs that caused the business model to fail. They (seemingly, don’t know the individuals personally) just got way out over their skis as developers. But almost every developer got over their skis as developers, too. Thats the b*tch about this recession; both the “good” and “bad” developers are taking it in the shorts and separating the performance of the two is difficult. The number of what I would categorize as good developers in trouble is very high.

  15. not deluded

    you’re all koola id drinkers. These buildings all look horrible. they do not fit the neighborhoods and they have a blacnk hostile inhuman look to them. In the years to come, no one will copy this model nor will it ever represent “home.” It’s stuff like this that makes Seattleites hate new development and density. Not to mention the elitist and self congratulatory attitude that goes with this kind of stuff.

    Wow, a box, wow, unashamedly bare materials, you know, it’s not even original anymore.

    It does sustain the fantasies of self proclaimed egotechts, obviously, but that’s about all you can say for it.

  16. vanderleun

    Recession over? In that case, place any extra money in the stock market and make a killing.

    Don’t worry, I’ll flip a dollar in your cup in a year. If you have a cup.

  17. dan cortland

    Pb Elemental cranked out a remarkable number of progressive projects like this one with the big orange wall on 23rd Ave. Alas, their timing was just a wee bit off.

    Big orange walls having had their heyday around 1967.

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