Plan moves forward for Bullitt Center’s giant solar panel array

Renderings of the solar panel array (Images: City of Seattle presentation)

A Seattle City Council committee Tuesday morning approved the massive 400-panel photovoltaic array that will sit atop E Madison’s Bullitt Center and provide 242 kilowatts of power to the building with enough left over to feed back into the Capitol Hill grid.

Because more than 4,000 square feet of the array will hang over the city-owned “right of way” along E Madison, 15th Ave and E Pike, the Council must approve the structure.


The diagram to the right shows the extent to which the array will hang over the sidewalk and street. A city staffer presenting on the array said the structure will not be “completely opaque” and that light and rain will be able to fall between the panels.

The full Council is expected to pass the resolution next Monday. An important piece of legislation will follow as the city determines how best to set fees for similar features in a way that properly compensates the community but also creates incentives for developers to add green and sustainable engineering to their plans.

The Bullitt Center broke ground last summer with plans to become “the greenest commercial building” in the world and is working toward a late 2012 completion. The University of Washington integrated design laboratory and Northwest headquarters of the Green Building Council are already slated to join the Bullitt Foundation in the low energy building.

Meanwhile, Tuesday night is the final public meeting to discuss the planned overhaul of the McGilvra Place Park that is being incorporated into the center’s plans and will receive a significant upgrade thanks to funds from the parks levy.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

11 thoughts on “Plan moves forward for Bullitt Center’s giant solar panel array

  1. I think the best thing the Council can do is to have a moratorium of one year on any similar overhang features. I say this not to be obstructionist, but as a community, we haven’t been able to experience what the true ramifications of these overhangs are. Let us experience this first so we can offer our feedback before regulations start being drafted.

    Overall, I’m not against this, but if you had a situation on Broadway with two 6 story buildings across the street from each other, each with 19’0″ (from the drawing above) overhangs, I think that would be a negative for the neighborhood.

  2. I would tend to agree with this. I’m all for green construction and renewable energy and am really excited about this building, however looking at the sketches leaves me somewhat concerned.

    It does make a lot of sense to see how this plays out first. I’m hoping it’s not that dramatic and that there is still a lot of light that gets through. As the technology improves paneling will most likely reduce in size, so this building is sort of a part of the “first gen” in green tech. Just building it and using it will improve subsequent buildings substantially.

    I’m hoping they allow the public in for tours when they first complete it!

  3. Okay I am a preservationist at heart and not terribly fond of new buildings but just had to comment on how hideous looking this whole operation is. I am cool with “green” but this has turned ME green. Ick!

  4. Solar collectors on top of buildings have been around 35 years now, starting with generating hot water in the Whole Earth Catalog … remember?

    The technology is now racing ahead, outside America. New science has flex collectors down to the thickness of hair.

    Nice try, but out of date the day they are mounted. Demonstration, not much.

    The building is really not interesting, seems out of scale and too box like …. with time that will become familiar.

  5. Look at this bottom rendering, folks. This is very odd. What are all these other buildings in the background? Is this The Imperial on the left, then the trees in the parklet then Madison Street? So the bicyclist on the right is actually on the sidewalk in front of SAAS. What is that massive building on the right of the building? This is a very misleading photo. I don’t care about the solar array or massive roof, but I do mind being shown renderings of fantasies. I also think that the building is only three stories high — I see it every day, so maybe I counted wrong.

  6. Devil’s advocate: they city REQUIRES overhangs (awnings) within the city center. Kinda funny how people have different standards depending on the height of the overhang.

  7. Tax payer space for private use. What a bunch of bs. The only reason this got approved is due to the name attached to that building.

  8. Improvements to McGilvra park will primarily benefit folks working at or visiting this “wonder” of encroachment. Pocket parks (Seven Hills with its soggy, spotty grass and incomplete design, in particular) and the lower road of Volunteer with English ivy and blackberry vines choking the conifers are in need of attention, instead,
    Sweet deal, Bullitts.

  9. I like it. Its the wave of the future. Help to preserve our home. I get the opportunity to work on it. I enjoy every minute of it. After looking at the picture, I do have one question. When it rains, where will the water roll? It looks like the people who walk by, better have their umbrellas.