Archive for March, 2008

First Hill, meet downtown. Downtown, this is First Hill.

Monday, March 31st, 2008

DPD is floating an idea to cap I-5 to turn it into a walkable space that reconnects First Hill and Capitol Hill with downtown.

Freeway Park

Interstate-5 has cut Fifth from Sixth Avenue for about four decades. And as anyone who’s gotten off the No. 11 or No. 10 bus right where the three neighborhoods meet can attest, the scale is almost Soviet. Freeway Park makes for a green connection near the convention center, but crossing elsewhere is cement city.

The idea is in early discussion and costs or specifics are nonexistent. It’s one of 21 possible comprehensive plan amendments that had an initial hearing Monday night at City Hall. The comp plan sets the framework for city zoning and planning policy and can be amended once a year.

Other amendments up for consideration:

Not everybody likes the Burke
Stopping Burke-Gilman in Ballard: An amendment from the North Seattle Industrial Association would prevent construction of bike trails within 100 feet of an existing short line railroad franchise that is in or next to the Ballard Interbay manufacturing and industrial center. The amendment is referring to the Burke-Gilman bike trail, which runs through the area. Eugene Wasserman, who wrote the amendment, says it is unsafe to build bike paths close to truck and rail transport and hurts the maritime industry.

Protecting tree canopy: A proposal written by Ilze Jones of Jones and Jones Architects and Landscape Architects would set goals and policies for increasing the city’s tree canopy. Kit O’Neill and Cheryl Trivison are co-sponsors of the proposal, which would make trees an element for consideration in land use planning and recommends the city set aside 48,000 acres for trees.

The urban canopy, aka trees
The proposal also suggests naming a tree czar.

A dozen up-zones and rezones, including changing specific industrial zones in Ballard, South Lake Union, Harbour Avenue and Stadium East to mixed-use or commercial use.

City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee held its first hearing on comp plan amendments Monday night. Contact Committee Chair Sally Clark to let her know what you think.

In health care design, change your conversation and change the world

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

If you really want to convince health care clients to pay for green design, you need to change the way you talk to them.

That’s what presenters at a health care design workshop said this morning.

Duncan Griffin

The workshop was part of the Engineering Vision 2030 conference, and was led by architect Duncan Griffin of NBBJ and engineer Dick Moeller of CDI Engineers. The two are involved in research for new green health care standards.

Dick Moeller

Talking to them differently is key to convincing medical clients to go green, Griffin and Moeller said.

Energy is not a big deal to health care clients compared to some of their other costs, Moeller said. So you need to show them how reducing energy affects the things that really cost them and that they care about most.

What matters to them? Employee retention and productivity, and patient health and safety.

So rather than assuming the client wants to reduce energy consumption, engineers and architects will get further showing clients studies on how more exposure to natural light speeds healing time. Or by talking about how different energy systems affect air quality and employee health.

 Children's Hospital of Denver

If you speak their language, they’re likely to listen. And that could have a huge impact. While health care buildings make up only 4 percent of U.S. buildings by square footage, Griffin said, they make up 9 percent of building energy consumed.

Bell Square’s tugboat won’t be docked for long

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Bellevue Square's tugboatI’m sure I’m not the only one here who remembers pushing past other kids to make it to the top of the tugboat at Bellevue Square. While I’m not proud of all the things I did when confronted with that tugboat teeming with other determined kids, it was a memorable part of growing up in the Northwest.

The Square is renovating the tug’s old home on the first floor and the tug has been removed, but according to the Square’s Web site, the tugboat will be getting a new play area on the third floor this fall.

The new play area will have a seating area, and the tugboat and smaller ferry boat will both be moved there. The Square’s site says the new play area will also have “added structures and nautical-themed elements for playing and climbing.” And room for a little pushing, I expect.

Was Prince-Ramus right?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

AIA Seattle recently held a post-op of this year’s honor awards. A panel of winners and AIA Seattle organizers discussed what the awards mean to the architectural community vs. what they mean to everybody else, and how that has changed over the years. A constant, said many participants, is controversy.

Sterling ResidenceMost of this year’s controversy talk has focused on the Sterling house on Queen Anne built by Pb Elemental, as has a lot of recent media coverage of the awards, this paper included.

But what about the criticisms of Seattle architectural ethics made by the judges?

Do Seattle designers create homes of great beauty but balk at projects of civic significance? Are they “exquisite grammarians” who don’t take a position, as judge and Seattle native Joshua Prince-Ramus said at the awards ceremony in November?

Does it take an out-of-town jury to see the truth, or were they missing the big picture?

Just wondering.

Welcome to the DJC’s SeattleScape blog

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Thanks for stopping by.


I am Shawna Gamache and I cover architecture, engineering and city government at the DJC.

This blog will focus on how Seattle shapes itself- its design, its planning and its aspirations. We’ll talk about what we’re building, what we’re preserving and what we’re losing.

From the shorelines to the skyscrapers, from the neighborhoods to the parks, Seattle has a lot of spaces that make us a unique place.

I hope you’ll stay awhile.