Posts Tagged ‘Seattle History’

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.

Time ticking on move for historic downtown clock

Friday, August 1st, 2008

My DJC colleague Lynn Porter reported today that the Carroll’s Fine Jewelry clock that has been on Fourth Avenue near Pike Street since 1913 could make a move to MOHAI.

Carrolls Clock photo courtesy of MOHAI

Carroll’s closed this Spring. The Carroll family has donated the two-ton freestanding cast iron timepiece to the Museum of History & Industry.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation board will weigh in on the landmark’s move at its Aug. 6 meeting.

Eight other Seattle street clocks are also designated city landmarks. They include the Ben Bridge jewelry store clock at the Fourth and Pike Building and the Greenwood Jewelers clock on North 85th Street.


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.