Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

High-rise living planned for Federal Way

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The DJC recently reported that developers want to build two mega mixed-use projects in Federal Way near the transit center. To read the stories, click here and here.

Here’s what Patrick Doherty, Federal Way’s economic development director and a SeattleScape blogger, says:

Response to the two potential projects has really ranged the full gamut. There have, not surprisingly, been a

Lander Korus’ project would have 544 condos and 262,200 square feet of retail. Rendering courtesy of Lander Korus
few naysayers.  Some folks are simply taken aback by the notion of tall buildings in Federal Way, an environment chiefly characterized by low-profile, automobile-oriented, suburban-style development. There have even been some folks who are concerned about the influx of Korean investment, investors, businesses and even more residents and how that could change the character of the community.

Conversely, there have been many folks who are really excited about the prospect of the “big change” that such large-scale, high-rise development would constitute. It’s not only the Chamber-of-Commerce types who have expressed their enthusiasm, but folks right across the spectrum of the city’s residents.  There are many longtime residents, especially empty nesters, who love their community and don’t want to leave, but are no longer able to or interested in maintaining a large house.  There are also many first-time home buyers who may be scraping together the money to afford a condo and would prefer to live within walking distance of the regional transit center and shopping, entertainment, dining and other destinations.  In this way, perhaps they can either forego a car or reduce the need to invest in a new car so they can afford their home.

Twin Development plans a 45-story mixed-use complex in Federal Way.
Twin Development plans a 45-story mixed-use complex in Federal Way. Image courtesy of Twin Development LLC

Projects such as these would be the first modern high-rise residential options in all of South King County, responding to the latent demand for such product in a market area of approximately 700,000 residents.

It is interesting to note, however, that both of these projects have been proposed by Korean-American developers/investors.  When asked about the wisdom of constructing new housing in this period of soft home prices and tough financing, I’ve repeated something that uniquely derives from that Korean connection: when it comes to either the investment opportunity or the housing market, these projects transcend the local South King/North Pierce market.  With Federal Way’s “regional center” designation, attracting EB5-visa foreign investors, its status as hub of the Puget Sound area’s Korean diaspora, and the direct connection that many local Korean-Americans have with their home country, Korea in essence becomes part of such projects’ market!  Or perhaps, the reverse is more appropriate: perhaps Federal Way and these projects become a satellite of the Korean economy.

With an economy that is almost fully out of the recession, with investors in Korea and neighboring Asian countries that have money to burn and are looking for places to invest it, and with investors also very enticed by the notion of securing a “green card” in tandem with their investment, Korea becomes a very viable economic driver in our region and in Federal Way, in particular.

So to summarize, I’d say that the response to these potential projects has been quite enthusiastic on the whole, but we cannot discount that they will represent a substantial change from the environment of today, and that will continue to engender some opposition.  Those opinions need to be respected and, in fact, may serve as useful insights into concerns that can be responded to in various ways in the design, construction and/or operation of these new projects.

Mag: OSKA among world’s ‘Top 10’

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Seattle’s own Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects has made national magazine Fast Company’s list of the Top 10 most innovative architecture firms in the world.

Bird's Nest
OSKA is in pretty good company on the list, which gives the No. 1 slot to international giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Second slot goes to Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, designer of the Beijing Olympics’ Birds Nest. The third firm listed is Zaha Hadid Architects, designer of London’s Millennium dome and that ET-inspired (or is that just me?) Chanel pavillion in Central Park last fall.

The list also includes a lot of global designers who’ve done projects in our own backyard. Rem Koolhaas’s OMA is fourth on the list. The Dutch designer‘s recent projects include the CCTV building in Beijing and our own Seattle Central Library.

Holl's St. Ignatius
Steven Holl, designer of Beijing’s “Linked Hybrid” complex and Seattle University’s Chapel of St. Ignatius, was fifth on the list. London’s Foster + Partners, designer of the new Beijing airport terminal, and, possibly, of the pending Civic Plaza for Seattle officials, was No. 6. (That project was supposed to leverage a public-private partnership to get a new skyscraper with public amenities across the street from City Hall, but it’s currently a hostage to the downturn.)

Spot No. 7 goes to Italy’s Renzo Piano, which recently designed the new NY Times headquarters building. Then comes Christian de Portzamparc, the French architect who designed the Luxembourg Philharmonic’s concert hall and has some cool visions for the future of Paris. Spot No. 9 went to KieranTimberlake, who designed the Cellophane House for MOMA’s show last year on modular marvels.

Montecito Residence- by Jim Bartsch
OSKA was tenth on the list. The magazine noted the firm’s “dossier of important public buildings” (Seattle Public Library’s Southwest branch, Frye Art Museum) and “skillful hand with residences framing sublime natural vistas.” OSKA has won numerous local awards in the latter category over the past few years (see Delta Shelter, Montecito Residence, Rolling Huts, Outpost, just to name a few).

This year, the firm was awarded AIA National’s firm of the year award. In the AIA Seattle awards last November, OSKA won an Award of Merit for its design of the Noah’s Ark for LA’s Skirball Cultural Center.

Seattle A/E firms still moving and shaking

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Two regional projects by local architects got ink today:

  • GreenMuze has an article on Vancouver’s Convention Centre (note the spelling if you don’t already know which Vancouver I’m talking about), designed by Seattle’s LMN Architects.  The design includes Canada’s largest green roof and a water treatment system that includes blackwater treatment and a seawater heat pump systemthat provides heating and cooling.
  • The Idaho Mountain Express has a story on community support for Callison‘s proposed design for Bald Mountain Lodge in Ketchum.  Apparently, the Sun Valley community actually liking a proposed luxury hotel project is pretty rare. The 85-unit, five-story hotel is for Rock Resorts, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts.

I also got a press release today from local architect HyBrid. They’re having a project release party Friday at their newest project, Remington Court.

The four-townhouse infill project has a gas-fired instantaneous hydronic system, providing both hot water and floor coil heating. They are designed for stack and cross ventilation.

The party is open to the A and E community (and friends) and runs from 5 p.m. to midnight at 1320 E. Remington Court (one block south of 14th and Jefferson). Local art will be on display and food and drinks are promised.

Koolhaas: It’s the end of an era

Friday, April 24th, 2009
"Library Side East" by Stephen L. Rosen
Rem Koolhaas, who designed the Seattle Central Public Library, and more recently the CCTV Building in Beijing, told the Wall Street Journal that money is scarce for megaprojects, even for him.

“I don’t even know about the word ‘downturn,’ ” Koolhaas told the WSJ in his office in Rotterdam. “It seems simply the end to a period.”

Though his firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, hasn’t had any projects canceled yet, Koolhaas said they have several projects on hold.

And they’ve had to make layoffs. WSJ reported that the firm, which had 270 employees last summer, is now down to 220. OMA is working on a theater complex in Taipei, a library in Qatar and new buildings in Holland, WSJ reports.

Has your firm had layoffs too? Respond to the poll on the right (scroll down just a tad) on area layoffs at A/E/C firms.

The crash as Seattle’s perfect storm?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

In this month’s Atlantic, Richard Florida talks about the America that will emerge from the rubble of the current recession.

Too bad he hasn’t spent more time in the Rainy City, or we might have gotten our own cover, like they did in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto, proclaiming our coming hegemony. No matter. For the America Florida describes is one where cities like Seattle will get all the candy.

Seattle wins.

No one will escape some serious hurt, Florida says, but some cities will find themselves bouncing back a lot faster.

And some might not bounce back at all. Gone are the days of easy credit fueling growth, Florida says. That will hurt some Sun Belt cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas and the fauxconomies that formed there based largely on speculation and flipping.

Also beaten back (again)  is the long-suffering rust belt and its dated manufacturing and distribution core.  Wisteria Lane-type suburbs will also find a hard time attracting people and growth to their sprawling reaches.

Ironically, Florida argues, cities like New York, the financial centers of the U.S., the ones where much of the damage was done that caused this crash in the first place, will emerge stronger than ever thanks to diverse economies and concentrations of highly educated people.

Florida describes a post-crash America where talent clusters in super-dense mega-regions will rule the day, places with lots of intellectual capitol and the ability to keep attracting those types of people. Places like Cascadia (which he actually mentions by name).

He argues the new administration would be wise to divert resources to those areas to keep people and capitol moving and ready for the economy of the future.

Seattle architect to study Aussie seawall design

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

AIA Seattle has just given its first Emerging Professionals travel scholarship to Mithun‘s Cristina Bump to study innovative seawall design in Australia and Canada.

Sydney's Botney Bay seawall
The $5,000 scholarship will pay for her travel and research. She’ll visit seawalls in Sydney, Melbourne and Vancouver,  exploring the impact alternative approaches have on urban development and natural habitat.

Bump plans to work with partners at the University of Washington, the city of Seattle and the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers to develop a series of recommendations for Seattle’s seawall replacement. She will present her research through an exhibition and model at AIA Seattle’s gallery in late 2009.

The scholarship is funded by contributions by Seattle-area Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and AIA members.

Architecture: 5 cents

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
Life in the current economy
In case you missed it, Mike Lewis had a great piece in the P-I today about Seattle Architect John Morefield’s creative marketing technique.

The 27-year-old architect, who said he’d been laid off twice this year, has spent the last two Sundays at the Ballard Sunday Market doling out design advice and a chuckle – on the cheap. He set up a booth with a sign that reads “Architecture 5 cents.”

These are certainly scary times for the A/E industry, but, as in the case of Morefield, such times can also uncover unique opportunities when designers use creative approaches. I’ve been working on an ongoing series for the DJC  on the economy and its affect on the A/E industry. The story has gotten increasingly bleaker over the past few months, but most architects aren’t resorting to Morefield’s tactics just yet.

In the most recent installment of the series, architecture industry execs told me they see a lot of opportunity in these gloom times. New markets, urban redevelopment, increasing demand for green design and a chance for Seattle to lead in the next economy topped the list.

Say goodbye to “wow” buildings?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The sputtering economy and markets might mean more than a shrinking 401(K) and a mortgage at odds with reality.

This Foster design is planned for Moscow

I’m not talking about hunger, job losses or increased poverty: I’m talking about plans to build crazy skyscrapers coming to a halt. Architect David Chipperfield told Bloomberg this week that the global financial crisis will take the wind out of the sails of the “wow” building industry.

Chipperfield said “wow” buildings are a result of an excess that just can’t be counted on to fund such projects anymore. I’m not sure if we’ve really reached that point in places like Dubai and the former Soviet Union where announcements for new record-setting buildings still seem to come in at a pretty good clop.

I do wonder what kind of architecture will spring from the coming decade. Will it be borne of necessity, hinged on frugality, or greased by lots of public dough? What will it look like if it’s all of the above? Will it at least stop getting taller and taller and taller?

What about here? We all know about the staggering number of public projects built in the U.S. during the Great Depression. Some are still “wows,” others might best be categorized as “hows?” Construction on Seattle’s own Viaduct and seawall started in 1934.

AIA Seattle winners and juror comments online

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Monday night’s AIA Awards were a departure from last year, when the jurors gave four of seven awards to posh private residences and lamented a lack of civic engagement among Seattle firms.

Woodway Residence was the only single family winner this year

This year, there was only one single family award winner. And multifamily infill and public projects dominated the winners.

Some local firms cleaned up. Weinstein A/U lugged home three awards, two of them Honors. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, The Miller|Hull Partnership and E. Cobb Architects each took home two.

The jurors scolded some award-winners for not including enough contextual and site information. They applauded AIA Seattle for including actual site tours as part of the decision process. Those tours helped them cut a few projects that had looked good in the pictures but they said didn’t work on site.

Check out detailed descriptions of the 14 winners and read more about why the jury picked them online. Also read threads/comments at Archinect (posted by holz about 3/4 of the way down the thread), BLDG Blog and at AIA Seattle.

Is pink the new black?

Friday, October 24th, 2008

In recent years, the rich deep colors of autumn leaves and “Halloween orange” have added a pastel partner – PINK! With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the typical color spectrum seems to have a sea of pink washing on its shores.

Leisure's Agave restaurant

Now, more than ever, pink is everywhere. The breast cancer movement lead by the Susan G. Komen Foundation chose pink as their identity color for this predominantly female disease. Since the onset of their visibility and that of other breast cancer organizations the color pink appears more frequently in clothes and household products. Historically, pink was more associated with Flamingos, Barbie and little girls’ fashion.

After World War II, during the post-modern era of design, it was popular for interior finishes. The film Pillow Talk prominently featured shades of pink in Doris Day’s Manhattan apartment, including oodles of pink pillows (Doris played interior designer Jan Morrow). Even the posters were primarily pink in color.

Let’s not forget your Aunt Edith’s pink tile bathroom with the matching vanity and toilet. A few years later, Aunt Edith traded in her pink for that 60’s “avocado period.”

Gatsby in pink

Pink had a minor resurgence in the 70s -This time it was the boys wearing it. Instead of burning bras, men found their own sense of liberation ditching the traditional blue and black suits for more modern colors and patterns. Some might credit the psychedelic revolution for that, but personally I believe this trend was inspired by Robert Redford appearing in a pink tuxedo for the film The Great Gatsby. For some of us, he looked as yummy as strawberry ice cream on a hot summer’s day.

Today, pink finally has its rightful place in design. Take for instance the Mary Kay Cosmetics headquarters in Shanghai. This is no dull “dusty rose” hangover from the 80’s. Designed by Gensler Architects, and finished in 2007, this is a seriously well designed modern office. A combination of color, sophistication, light and functional flexibility, it may well be one of the best palettes of pink ever used in a corporate office space. Its design gestures inspired by roses create a very inviting place to work and visit.

Bouganvillea at Night
Some of you might ask: Do pink and sustainability go together? The answer is an emphatic yes. There are some wonderful eco-products available in pink. Ecohaus for example carries Geostone recycled tiles and Sandhill tile made from 100 percent recycled glass. They also have some interesting combinations from the Yolo Paint’s Petal line.

In addition, I would recommend checking out Madison & Grow’s wallpaper. They are 100 percent toxic free, made from recycled content. I especially like “Bouganvilla at Night;” it’s a fairly traditional pattern, with a wonderful shade of pink on a gray background.

One of my favorite local design firms is Leisure Corporation. They are uber-creative folks with a great sense of humor who add this magical sense of delight to their work. I recently spoke with Justin Zier, their founder, about his project Agave, a hip Las Vegas restaurant. Here’s what he had to say:

“I think pink is the new Friday. I like pink so much I have four pink Christmas trees. The interior color palate of one of our restaurant projects in Las Vegas was inspired by a Mexican Begonia. It’s wicked pink.”

By the way, I share Justin’s sentiment, but I only have one pink Christmas tree for now. I proudly display my vintage pink reindeer along side of it.