Posts Tagged ‘History’

Historic preservation training tonight (July 1)

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Heather MacIntosh, president of D.C.-based lobbying group Preservation Action, will be back in her old stomping grounds tonight for a lecture on grassroots advocacy. macintosh.jpg

The lecture starts at 5:30 p.m. tonight (July 1) at the First United Methodist Church Sanctuary at 811 Fifth Ave. It’s free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by Daniels Development.

MacIntosh was a preservation advocate for Historic Seattle and was deputy director of Historylink. org, the online encyclopedia of Seattle and Washington history.

Rypkema says Seattle is losing its “grittiness”

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Donovan Rypkema, the historic preservation and economic development expert, was here this week from Washington, D.C. for a lecture sponsored by Historic Seattle.rypkema.jpg

I went to his lecture Thursday and spoke to him Friday morning. He had been out with his camera, wandering First Hill and downtown and snapping photos of older blocks and newer developments. He said Seattle has really changed in the 20 years he’s been watching it.

“I’ve loved (Seattle) because of its grittiness and that’s rapidly disappearing,” he said.

He said he was also surprised we don’t have more historic districts in our great, historic town. Rypkema believes historic preservation is key to economic development but has a special affinity for historic districts. Unlike one historic building, where preservation can be seen as an economic burden on a building owner, he said, a district sees all its values rise.

He said rehabbing a historic building is the greenest construction there is and said there is no function in today’s world that couldn’t happily be housed in yesterday’s building. He said churches, universities and hospitals are the worst at claiming they need to raze historic buildings to suit their modern needs.

“Developers are often painted as the villains in neighborhoods but the biggest villains in neighborhoods are churches hospitals and universities,” he said Friday. “They screw up more neighborhoods than anyone else in the country.”

At the Thursday lecture at Wallingford’s lovely Good Shepherd Center, Rypkema said historic districts also: have stabler prices and are better equipped to ride out economic downturns, and draw better tourists and do a better job overall at supporting the local economy than new construction (because more money goes to workers than materials, and then the workers spend that cash locally).

Seattle has seven historic districts: Ballard Avenue, Columbia City, Fort Lawton, Harvard-Belmont, the International District, Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square. For comparison, Portland has 13 historic districts and seven conservation districts.

Read the entire text of Rypkema’s lecture for yourself, and read his own blog about his recent trips to Seattle and Portland.

Phinney Ridge 92-year-old reflects on a lifetime of Seattle design

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008
Old downtown
Gray's Seattle
Architecture writer and editor Relta Gray was born in Mount Vernon and moved to Seattle in 1934 to attend UW.

She remembers taking the ferry from Madison Park to Kirkland for her first reporting job, and said the streetcars that criss-crossed the city cost a nickel each. Bellevue was a meadow, she said, while Kirkland was a vibrant little town.

Gray worked for Architecture West for about 20 years and led Relta Gray Associates for nearly 30 years. She also founded Environmental Design West and edited Northwest Architect.

I spoke to Relta about how today’s Seattle compares with that town of old and about her memories of earlier Seattle architects. Here’s a selection from our conversation.

Relta Gray
Relta Gray

Q. How has downtown changed?
A. To me, it seems like when I go downtown I begin to feel like I’m in New York or Chicago. I do like the energy of going downtown and feeling people around, but if feels like we’re taking away the whole character of the Northwest with the way they’re putting all these high-rises up and crowding it all together and taking down some of the little stores and things you always enjoyed.


The Arctic Hotel is getting close

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Renovation of the historic Arctic Building is nearing completion.

Arctic Building
The Artic's signature Walruses

(Quick, before you click the link above, name the architect. Hint: He also designed the old King County Courthouse.)

The Arctic Club Hotel will celebrate its grand opening in May, according to the Web site for Summit Hotels & Resorts. Summit bought the walrus-adorned historic building from the city in 2005 for $5.1 million. Check out a slide show of rooms and more here.

The city purchased the Arctic and the Alaska Building in 1988 for more than twice their 2005 selling price.

Summit has been busy converting the 1916 social club turned office building into an upscale hotel. The landmark building at Third and Cherry needed a full seismic upgrade in addition to repairs and refurbishments.

It’s been fun to see the building getting spruced up for its new purpose. Check out the room design here, and get a glimpse on the left of the refurbished ceiling and chandelier.

The building is no longer limited to those who made it big in the Alaskan Gold Rush, but rooms start at about $250 a night.

(Fun fact, from Jeffrey Ochsner‘s “Shaping Seattle Architecture:” The Arctic Building’s Architect, Augustus Warren Gould, had no academic training and transferred from the contracting business to architecture in the late 1890s.)