The challenge of converting a sea of parking lots, that so often riddles auto-dependent suburbs, is in densification. Architects are introducing compact urban living models to small towns all across the country, retrofitting single-use zoning into more walkable, diverse and connected communities. Perhaps nowhere is this evolution more evident than Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood, home to the country’s oldest shopping malls. Learn how the town became denser and greener, transitioning to a transit-oriented development, “Gray, Green, and Blue: Seattle’s Northgate.”
Olson Kundig Architects’ $6.6 million Wagner Education Center at The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) in Seattle is scheduled to break ground this winter. Reminiscent of historic Northwest boatbuilding facilities, the projected LEED Gold center will serve as the “modern front door for the growing museum, Lake Union Park and the surrounding South Lake Union neighborhood.” The design will feature large windows and movable exterior panels that, consistent with Kundig’s signature use of inventive details, will grant users maximum flexibility in controlling the interior’s exposure to the elements.
The City Design Review Board has approved NBBJ’s tri-sphere biodome planned for Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Reaching up to 95 feet, the glass cluster of “Spheres” was designed to create an alternative work environment within the 3.3 million-square-foot office and retail campus that is currently under construction.
This year’s Seattle Design Festival, hosted by Design in Public and AIA Seattle, will feature large scale installations, home tours, walking tours, films, lectures, exhibitions, competitions, activities, pop-up parklets, and more which is open to the general public. The city-wide event takes place September 13-22 with the hub of the festival at the ‘Design Block’ in Pioneer Square. This year’s theme is ‘Design in Health’ exploring the connection between environmental design and health & well-being. Design can improve health by: promoting physical activity, increasing access to healthy food, reducing injuries, improving air and water quality, minimizing stress, and strengthening the social fabric of communities. More information after the break.
Architects: Mahlum Architects
Location: University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Mep Engineers: PAE Consulting Engineers
Structural Engineers: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Landscape Architects: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol LLC
Civil Engineers: SVR Design Company
Builders: Walsh Construction Co., W.G. Clark Construction Co.
Area: 668800.0 ft2
Photographs: Benjamin Benschneider
In an attempt to “create an alternative environment” in the center of Amazon’s recently approved, three-block headquarters planned for downtown Seattle, NBBJ has submitted a revision that would replace a six-story office building with a tri-sphere biodome that will host various forms of plant life and provide a more natural setting for employees to work and socialize. Perhaps this change is Amazon’s way of “keeping up with the Joneses”, as many leading corporations – Apple, Google, and Facebook - have been unveiling plans to construct one-of-the-kind office complexes centered around sustainability, innovation and collaboration.
The Bullitt Center, a six-story, 50,000 square foot office building in Seattle that aspires to be the world’s greenest commercial building, opens its doors to the public today on Earth Day. This $30 million “living laboratory,” designed by Miller Hull Partnership, distinguishes itself from other sustainable projects with its composting toilets, the exclusion of 350 common toxic chemicals – including PVC, lead, mercury, phthalates, BPA and formaldehyde – along with a strict energy and water budget that aims for self-sufficiency under the Living Building Challenge. The environmentally-conscious Bullitt Foundation hopes that the new center will demonstrate that carbon-neutral office space can be “commercially viable and aesthetically stunning,” a series of systems that can be easily copied elsewhere without being overly demanding in upkeep.
Read more about the Bullitt Center after the break…
Seattle-based architect Jim Olson of Olson Kundig Architects has been selected by Washington State University to design a new Museum of Art. Over the years, Olson has complied a spectacular portfolio of stunning homes designed for art collectors worldwide. This experience has given Olson a “wealth of experience in not only crafting beautiful environments for works of art, but in working with artists to discover new opportunities for expressing their creativity,” according to Chris Bruce, director of the museum.
Enthusiasm for water and energy data collection for commercial and residential buildings has been growing strong across the U.S. in major cities such as Austin, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. It’s no surprise to learn that Earth-friendly Seattle is ahead of the game when it comes to tracking its buildings; reports show that the city is receiving data for a whopping 87% of its commercial and multi-residential buildings over 50,000 square feet, which totals to 1,160 individual properties covering over 200 million square feet of the city.
But that’s not all. New cities are hopping on the data collection bandwagon, most recently Minneapolis – the first city in the Midwest to adopt rules for energy benchmarking and disclosure. Other cities who already have a green reputation, such as Boston, are upping their game to adopt this beneficial practice in an effort to create even healthier and more prosperous urban conditions. With the President himself expressing support for cutting energy use by constructing more energy efficient buildings at last week’s State of the Union address, water and energy data collection is finally receiving the attention and consideration it deserves.
More on tracking building energy use after the break…
The Seattle Center HUB (Hybrid Urban Bioscape) is an innovative urban space that explores the value of urban hybridization as a design opportunity to address sustainable and technological issues in the definition of the contemporary public space. The starting point for the proposal by Aétrangère was to introduce an innovative approach to reach the same goals envisioned by the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan. Instead of conceiving the demolitions, reconstructions, new buildings, the underground parking, and the major open space as separate elements, they allow some degree of integration for sustainable features we focused on defining this public space project starting from a sustainable approach. More images and architects’ description after the break.
RETHINK REUSE recently announced the winning entries in their Transforming Seattle’s 520 Floating Bridge 2012 International Design Ideas Competition. With the goal of envisioning new, innovative reuse strategies, the winners successfully answer the questions: What is a floating bridge when its function is no longer needed? What can designers do when faced with the design problem of reusing thirty-three floating concrete pontoons? More images and information on the winners after the break.