It was early December in Seattle when the world’s biggest-diameter tunnel boring machine, called Bertha, came to a stop underneath Seattle. It was plowing through the city’s underground as part of the two-mile project to bring SR 99 underground and replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Overnight, it seemed as if the whole of Seattle and beyond was curious: was it buried treasure from the gold rush days? Or bootlegger artifacts?
Seattle’s design review board has unanimously approved the three biodome scheme for the NBBJ-designed Amazon headquarters. The five-story building will include flexible brainstorming and work areas filled with plants and trees, while the ground level will include retail space and public viewing spots. Planned for the block is also an Amazon office tower of up to 38 stories, as well as a neighboring public park that will include a dog run area.
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LIT Workshop fabricated sleek lodge poles to complement the city’s heritage.
When Starwood Properties began to reimagine a new living room concept for the W Seattle, the existing first floor space featured a disconnected bar, restaurant, and lounge area, much like the traditional layout of a formal home. Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm Skylab Architecture was charged with knocking down the visual barriers for an open floor plan that resembled a more modern, casual living space.
Several preexisting columns could not be removed for structural reasons, so a truly open plan had to be amended. “In some ways you could see them as a negative, or they could be seen as a positive,” Skylab principal Brent Grubb told AN. “We try to turn those perceived negatives into a design element and make it unique.” Researching the city’s cultural and maritime history inspired the architecture team to combine the water-worn patina of shore-front pilings with the physical mass of wooden totem poles. The solution was a parametrically streamlined form that was fabricated in modular sections for swift installation. Read More
As AN reported in our latest West Coast issue, designs for the Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle have gone through another revision since this past May. Though still channeling greenhouses and conservatories, renderings reveal an update to the three interconnected domes on Block 19 that architecture firm NBBJ has dubbed “conjoined Catalan spheres.” With a skin of white painted steel, the new design has moved beyond more traditional cross-hatching, and now nods to the pentagons of a soccer ball. But these forms are expanded and pushed to create an irregular pattern that exerts a more organic geometry. Read more about the project in AN‘s article or check out an expanded gallery of renderings below.
Buster Simpson // Surveyor
The Frye Art Museum
704 Terry Avenue, Seattle
Through October 13
Buster Simpson is a Seattle-based artist who has dedicated his artistic career to developing community-focused and urban environmentalist public art projects. For more than forty years he has created site-specific, agitation and propaganda works that have not only troubled neighborhoods to think about the health of their communities but also suggested local solutions to global issues. This exhibition at the Frye Art Museum features some of Simpson’s most compelling works, filled with explicit messages and rich metaphors, such as his “Hudson River Purge” (1991), a video performance in which he addresses the problem of acid rain by dropping 42 ½-pound soft limestone discs, or “antacid pills,” into the Hudson River, neutralizing the acidity of the water. This collection of Simpson’s public artwork celebrates his artistic legacy and captures the regional and global impact of his work.
Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.)
With summer just around the corner, bicyclists are getting excited to try out the new bike-share systems being installed in many cities across the nation. After initial delays, New York City’s bike-share program is set to open by the end of the month, and San Francisco, Seattle, and Hoboken have similar plans of their own on the horizon.
San Francisco: SPUR reports that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District signed a contract with Alta Bike Share to spin the wheels on a bike-sharing program for San Francisco. Alta Bike Share runs similar bike programs in Washington, D.C. and Boston and will be the operator of new programs in New York and Chicago this year. San Francisco plans a two-year pilot program consisting of 700 bikes in 70 locations that will launch this summer throughout the San Jose to San Francisco region. Last year the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020 and now, after several delays, the plan will be the first regional program in the country.
The newly opened Bullitt Center in Seattle has stridden beyond the checklists of the LEED rating system to bring “real green” architecture into the public’s eye. As the self-proclaimed “greenest commercial building in the world,” the Bullitt Center seeks to meet the exacting goals of the Living Building Challenge, a more rigorous certification alternative to LEED. Located in Seattle’s Capital Hill district, which is in the process of a metamorphosis into the city’s “Eco-District,” the six-story building aims to serve as a new standard for what can be accomplished when architects and developers put ecological design at the forefront of their priorities.
This past Sunday evening, Seattle officials closed First Avenue. It wasn’t for road repairs, but to celebrate the unveiling of the Seattle Art Museum’s facade refresh by multimedia artist Doug Aitken. Two giant LCD screens projecting kaleidoscopic images of the Seattle region now wrap the north and west facade of the museum, with emanating vertical bands of lights.