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.
There are those famous pairings in life—cookies and milk, wine and cheese, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Lewis and Clark. But could there really be a better pairing than architects and chefs working together to create gingerbread houses?
In its 20th year running, Seattle area architecture firms and chefs at the downtown Sheraton Hotel teamed up for the holidays to build gingerbread houses benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Northwest Chapter. While last year’s theme featured iconic train stations around the world, this year’s theme took a more decidedly youthful and imaginative approach—“Once Upon a Time”—envisioning the castles and abodes of characters in popular children’s fiction in candy, icing, and gingerbread. Kids with type 1 diabetes volunteering with JDRF worked with the architecture firms, choosing the story titles for the six gingerbread houses: Alice and Wonderland, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Chronicles of Narnia, Grimm’s Fairytales, and The Little Mermaid. The whimsical, sugary interpretations sport characters crafted from marzipan, window glazing made from heated sugar, sour belts as roofing tiles, M&Ms as coining. The Brothers Grimm Castle of Fairytales even sports a working drawbridge. More houses below! Read More
Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon’s three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days.
In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle’s rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas.
Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew.
While the Bullitt Center was the first built project to follow the rigorous sustainable guidelines of Seattle’s “Eco-District,” a second “living building” is coming to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, and will incorporate commercial space in addition to offices. Clocking in with a total of 120,000 square feet, the building will include a new headquarters for Brooks Sports.
Dubbed Stone34, the building will be right off the the Burke-Gilman Trail, the 27-mile rail-to-trail walking and biking path that snakes through northern portions of Seattle. LMN Architects is helming the design of the five-story building that will recycle most of its water and includes a fresh air ventilation system, natural lighting, and thermal energy storage. Pushing sustainability even further, visitors, customers, and staff will be able to eat the lanscaping: greening by Swift Company will include edible plants.
Completion is expected fall of 2013.
“I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel,” E.B. White once remarked. After the dismantling of the Seattle Center Fun Forest and Ferris wheel—closed in January 2011 to make way for the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum—Seattle will finally get its Ferris wheel back. The nearly-completed privately-funded wheel at Pier 57, with 8 supportive legs and 21 spokes, will weigh 280,330 pounds. Built by Chance Morgan Rides Manufacturing Inc. and funded by developer Hal Griffith, the 42 six-person gondolas will bring riders 175 feet into the air, with views of the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Rainier to the south, and the Cascade Mountains and the city to the east. Open year-round, the cars will be enclosed, heated, and air-conditioned, so no need to worry about the Seattle drizzle.