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This Could Have been a Parking Garage

Westlake Park in downtown Seattle has been occupied by protestors for the past several weeks. A fitting location, as the site waswas spared from development following citizen outrage in the 1970s.

Charles Royer was elected mayor in 1979 on a platform which called for throwing out the “Mondev Plan”, named for the Canadian developer who wanted to build a 300-car garage and hotel at this prominent intersection. 

Designers for the plaza created a design inspired by basket weaving patterns of the Coast Salish. The story goes that the project designers threw a bucket of water on sample pavers at city hall to convince councilmembers that the plaza would look elegant, even on a rainy Seattle day.

Opened in 1988, Westlake Park was the result of decades of litigation and political bickering. Victor Steinbrueck, the man credited with saving Pike Place Market, led the charge to preserve public space at 4th and Pine in downtown Seattle. Automobiles were prohibited on this section of Pine Street until 1996, when Nordstrom negotiated a deal to bring cars back to Westlake in exchange for opening a flagship store next door. 

I am hopeful the space will one day be given back to the pedestrians. 

Read more: Historylink

This Could Have been a Parking Garage

Westlake Park in downtown Seattle has been occupied by protestors for the past several weeks. It is worth remembering that Seattle citizens raised their voices and used their political power to save this space from development in the 1970s. Charles Royer was elected mayor in 1979 on a platform which called for throwing out the “Mondev Plan”, named for the Canadian developer who wanted to build a 300-car garage and hotel at this prominent intersection. 

Designers for the plaza created a design inspired by basket weaving patterns of the Coast Salish. The story goes that the project designers threw a bucket of water on sample pavers at city hall to convince councilmembers that the plaza would look elegant on a rainy Seattle day.

Opened in 1988, Westlake Park was the result of decades of litigation and political bickering. Victor Steinbrueck, the man credited with saving Pike Place Market, led the charge to preserve public space at 4th and Pine in downtown Seattle. Automobiles were prohibited on this section of Pine Street until 1996, when Nordstrom negotiated a deal to bring cars back to Westlake in exchange for opening a flagship store next door. 

Wouldn’t it be great to give this space back to the pedestrians and bicyclists?

Read more: Historylink

Beautiful Waste

Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility and Environmental Education and Community Center, near Bothell, Washington, USA.

Mitun, 2011

Photos: Juan Hernandez, Mithun, and Benjamin Minnick, Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

The treatment facility employs state-of-the-art technology for a cleaner effluent and odorless operation. An installation by artist Jane Tsong illustrates the treatment process to visitors through poetry, and “blesses” the water before it is released.

The education center makes use of reclaimed wood in its construction. Concrete masonry unit walls provide building mass that store heat and eliminate the need for air conditioning. 

Japanese houses are like concept albums

1-6: Tsun-miya House (2008) by Taira Nishizawa allows its occupants to open the house to nature, or to shut it off for complete privacy. The sun passes in through a shuttered, transparent ceiling, allowing those who reside within to live by the rhythm of time and season.

7-10: Stairs House in Shimane, designed by y+M, is a wedge-shaped house built with privacy in mind. The layout of the house (private spaces above and in the rear) and the clever window configuration lets in natural light while maintaining privacy. The rooftop provides space to play, entertain, and enjoy the view. 

Libraries of the Pacific Northwest (that weren’t designed by Rem Koolhaas)

The Pacific Northwest’s public libraries are among the busiest in North America, supporting this dreary corner of the continent’s reading habit. Libraries throughout the Pacific Northwest are celebrated for their innovative design and environmental stewardship. 

Featured Photos:

1-3: Natural light and integration with the surrounding forest were top design goals in this expansion project. Federal Way Library, Federal Way, WA. Mithun Architects, 2010.

4: A 3,000 square foot living wall on this library filters stormwater and provides habitat for the birds and the bees. Semiahmoo Public Library, Surrey, BC. Living wall by Green over Grey Design, Vancouver, BC, 2010.

5-6: A recently renovated Magnolia Library is a classic example of the Japanese influence in Pacific Northwest modern design. This library also features furniture made by George Nakashima. Magnolia Branch Library, Seattle, WA. Paul Kirk (1964), SHKS Architects (2008).

7-9: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center is covered by a large green roof that insulates the building and filters stormwater. The building’s form and materials are evokative of Ballard’s maritime history. Ballard Branch Library and Neighborhood Service Center, Seattle, WA. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects, 2005. 

 The Opera 

Copenhagen, Denmark

This post is the third in a series chronicling the string of harborside concert halls built in the Nordic countries in recent years. Copenhagen’s Opera Hall was completed in 2004. 

Henning Larsen Architects, Copenhagen

with E. Pihl & Søn A/S, Rambøll A/S, Theatre Plan LLP, Ove Arup & Partners International

 

New Norwegian National Opera and Ballet
Oslo, Norway

This post is the second in a series chronicling the string of harborside concert halls built in the Nordic countries in recent years. Norway’s new opera and ballet building, like new concert halls in Iceland and Denmark, is intended to revitalize a post-industrial harbor neighborhood. Visitors may explore the rooftop and touch the water from the structure’s lower level. 

Snøhetta arkitektur landskap AS, Oslo

"The Other Wall", Olfaur Eliasson, Danish-Icelandic artist

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center
Reykjavík, Iceland

This post is the first in a series chronicling the string of harborside concert halls built in the Nordic countries in recent years. Iceland’s Harpa evokes imagery of volcanic basalt and iridescent fish scales.

Henning Larsen Architects, Copenhagen

Batteríið Architects, Reykjavík

Ólafur Elíasson, Icelandic/Danish artist, designed the south facade and developed the principle for the remaining north/east/west facades and roof in collaboration with project architects. (Harpa Website)

Artec, New York (Acoustics)

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