Champagne solves all problems: Capitol Hill’s Viva building overcomes its color challenges

IMG_1215The color problem that put the brakes on the brand new, six-story, mixed-use Viva building at 12th/Union/Madison?


“They have changed out portions of the siding to a champagne colored metal siding, thus satisfying the accent color issue!” a Department of Planning and Development representative enthusiastically informs CHS.

The new building is already moving forward with moving in new residents and a couple new businesses — including the brand new location for Ines Patisserie.IMG_1206

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45 thoughts on “Champagne solves all problems: Capitol Hill’s Viva building overcomes its color challenges

  1. I’m so relieved that this issue has been resolved and that the design review board has done a miraculous job saving us from good design.

  2. Wow! It’s AMAZING just how much of a difference that champagne colored metal siding makes! It’s like an entirely new building now. Gone is the big ugly monstrosity, now it’s light and airy and such a pleasure to look at. I am going to go out of my way to walk by this beautiful architectural marvel. It’s like looking at the face of god, it’s so splendid! I feel blessed that it is in our neighborhood and that I can gaze upon it daily.

    • It seems like you enjoy New Classical architecture. Although it has it’s own merits, New Classical doesn’t fit well in a tech dominant city like Seattle. Almost all new architecture in this city is primarily Modern (or a few quirky post-modern buildings like the EMP) and I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon. There definitely is a fine line between making sleek minimalist architecture and boring utilitarian “human parking spaces.” VIVA has an amazing plot of land to create extreme angles in its design and minimalism thrives on extreme angles. It’s unfortunate the final product is a bit on the utilitarian side of things, but the improvements are welcomed!

      • This tech dominant city? Well in order to have new buildings blend in perhaps they should all be built in the shape of laptops or iPhones or kindles or better yet some twenty something obliviously walking into traffic with wires in ears and “reading” a book online and talking on phone at full volume broadcasting their latest drama while their high tech 100 foot dog leash is tripping several pedestrians. I know “WE DON’T CARE HOW THEY DO IT IN NEW YORK” but look at 56 Leonard which does not blend in with TriBeCa,0ne57 which does not blend in with midtown lux high rise, 432 Park Avenue which has John Jacob Astor spinning in his grave or Scnabels “Pink Palace”, a sore thumb in Chelsea. None of these blend in yet all are stunning. And why must buildings blend? Must we live in a beige world? My point is it can be done and it can be visually unique without blending. Example: condo on Pike between Boylston and whatever street. Abrams architects. Modern. Not a box. Not an eyesore. Curves, color, corrugation. A triumph.
        Viva? Rename it Muerte.

      • I’m glad that you’re passionate about architecture Miles, but if you’re so offended by someone calling Seattle a tech city, you should perhaps move to NYC that you seem so excited about; at least your hyperbole was comical. I hope if you reread my comment, you’ll understand my point was to say New Classical is not a Seattle philosophy. I’m glad we both like Modern and agree with the pitfalls of poor Modern architecture. Can we hug and be friends?

      • I am not offended by your reference of a tech city. Technology certainly has its benefits. In medicine, education,and speeding up delivery of my Mongolian Beef and dumplings. But it also has its downside. Too numerous to mention here.
        And who coined this ridiculous term “new classical”? Should I listen to new Bach? New Dvorak? Read new Shakespeare? Am I unhip because I eat antediluvian potroast instead of new classical fusion Asian neo post modernist edgy nouvelle Indo indie icky stuff?
        And fuythuhmawww, yes I am a New Yawka, just out here visiting for the past 21 years 3 months 4 days and 25 minutes or so. And no we most certainly cannot hug.

      • This was a fun little exchange! At first Matthew was the condescending jerk who used primordialist reasoning (the base of racist worldviews; to assert *at* us what a seemingly fixed, homogenous “Seattle philosophy” is. But then Miles betrayed a surprisingly lack of commensensical knowledge on a subject he was ranting on.

        Who won? I, for one, say, it’s a tie!

      • You’re completely right! I see that I was a condescending asshole in hindsight. I unfortunately get very defensive when my hugs are rejected. Let me know if Miles ever changes his mind; I know he could use a hug.

      • Miles, I’m not sure I agree with you, but I sure enjoyed reading your comment…especially your description of the typical 20-somethings we see on our streets today….hilarious!

      • > Almost all new architecture in this city is primarily Modern

        You understand that this is *solely* to save money with corrugated metal siding and other cheap materials, right? Please don’t attempt to call these jokers “modern architects”.

        If the Flatiron Building is too NYC for you, something like the Triangle Pub in Pioneer Square (and even its more modern addition next door) would look great on that corner and fit in with existing brick apartments on the hill:

        Or you could look *literally across the street* from the Sandcrawler to see a semi-neoclassical building at the Trace Lofts. Beautiful building, event the black addition on top:

      • Both of your examples involve the adaptive re-use of an existing historical structure. The “Sandcrawler’s” lot did not have the benefit of an existing building like that so they are not the very effective examples.

      • “Almost all new architecture in this city is primarily Modern” because it’s cheap. Developers are exploiting an architectural style by creating horribly poor designs in order to use the shoddiest, cheapest materials they can find. This is all about profits, not about neighborhoods or the city – and the design review board is enabling it.

  3. The real crime is the belief that Corrugated Metal Siding belongs on anything other than a barn roof. This building really is crushingly boring.

  4. I would love to see the all personal bank statements for each Department of Planning and Development member that approved this building. J

  5. Snark aside — I think it’s a real improvement. The building might not be the aesthetic vision of our dreams, but the different-colored panels do help break up the mass and define the windows in more interesting ways. Glad to see DPD and the developer come to agreement — and looking forward to some delicious croissants.

  6. I wonder if the city is interested in doing anything about their (illegal) signs all over Capitol Hill? You’re allowed to have a sandwich-board sign in-front-of or adjacent-to your business, but not blanketing the sidewalks for dozens of blocks around. That’s our public right of way and it’s annoying when their signs are found laying IN the cycle track or they need to have 3 on a single corner.

    • I agree completely….this is one of my pet peeves. Developers/marketers knowingly ignore the sign regulations and are not held accountable. I have occasionally filed a complaint with SDOT, but if they do anything they just make a phone call and ask the developer to voluntarily comply, then there is no followup or consequences when their request is ignored.

      • I’ve filed complaint as well — after I saw a person in a motorized wheelchair have to ask someone to pull one of the signs out of the street level curb cut.

        Maybe our intrepid editor can ask SDOT why it refuses to enforce the law against people using our right-of-way to the detriment of cyclists and wheelchairs (and the visual blight to the rest of us)?

      • Yes, that would be a great subject for an article. But SDOT is by far the most unresponsive agency in the City government, so I doubt they will cooperate with any requests.

  7. WTF?! This is NOT f**king Bellevue! The color was FINE. If you want a color nazi with no training in design or architecture to dictate what colors we have in our lives, GO TO BELLEVUE.

    It’s bad enough the City has no leadership, but now we dictate color?

  8. Matthew don’t read this. It’s another rant. You can give any label you want to Oy Vay. Sorry, Viva. New Classical Neo Classique New Urbanism Neo Grooveau or Neo Fashtunkeneh. The fact is its an abomination and I’ve yet to meet any Cap Hill residents who feel otherwise. No. That’s not true. I did meet one guy who thought it was gorgeous but he went to a SUNY school in the 70’s and has 3 brain cells.
    There are only two types of architecture making them easy to delineate
    1) gorgeous
    2) cap hill condos.
    And now I’ll return to the core of the earth,with my victrola, my 78s, my rotary, my hardcover books and my shrine to Emory Roth and Rosario Candela. Hugs.

  9. Dear “fun”. It is not a tie. I won. Because I said so and so did my mommy and she said I don’t have to play with him anymore. Since when do you need knowledge or common sense to rant? Just look at our elected Republican officials. And also, who would you rather spend Sunday in the park with-a dry pedantic allegedly knowledgable soul or a delightful humorous village idiot? Case closed.

  10. Thank you for letting us know that the color added was indeed “Champagne”. I watched them painting believing for some odd reason that the beige – I mean “champagne” must be a base coat.
    The building is dark and ugly – brown and beige. When I look at the lovely blue on the original banners I just wonder why such an important element like color is blown off.
    There are some developers getting it right. I toured Sunset Electric and felt like they captured the vibe of the Hill. We’ve got old auto row on the bottom with the color choice above selected to blend into the often gray Seattle sky. Someone put some thought into it.
    Those extra large panels of ugly siding are the cheapest the industry has to offer right now. In fact, the larger they are the cheaper the unit price is.

  11. Matthew-I had hopes I could get thru today rant free. But my day is already starting on a sour note with blinding sunshine streaming thru my windows and landing right smack in the middle of my core. I will not rant about buildings. But this hug business is has me spiraling into a psychotic episode.
    How do you know I need a hug? When I heAr people say that it usually means that they need to hug someone. When did hugs become a form of greeting? What happened to handshakes or a simple hello? I reserve hugs for my loved ones. Mother, best friend, nieces(the good ones-not the other 2 that haven’t sent a thank you note in 30 years), my favorite Aunt, and Streisand if we should cross paths.
    When you hug indiscriminately you devalue it’s ooomph. Like overusing the f word in every sentence. Same holds true for “awesome”. And don’t even get me started on “impacted”… Back to the point-when this deluge of hugs began I just assumed folks just wanted to touch my rock hard body with its abs and buns of steel and pecs like an Adonis-all given to me by nature and not bought at a gym. But then I came back to reality and my acceptance that I’m a middle aged balding mushy guy without any muscles. Except in fingers thanks to Rachmaninoff. So who would wanna touch me? People who need to hug. Just another way of broadcasting ones life. Look at me! I have strong meaningful connections!
    So. Please hug a building. You’ll probably get a warmer response. And now on with my morning. Granola and wheat germ await. Namaste.

    • I wish there was a way to post an icon……if there was, I would put one here showing me “laughing out loud.”

      Are you a writer, Miles? If not, you sure as hell should be!

      • Oh Calhoun thank you. No I’m not a writer. I would be but I’m afraid if anything ever got published my family would never speak to me again. Especially my dreadful Neanderthal brother in law May He Itch In Places He Cannot Reach, Then Lose All His Teeth Except One So He Can Still Get a Toothache. Thanks for the compliment. Much live and even more hugs, Mother Teresa. Breakfast update: granola and wheat germ made me feel ever so virtuous. But still hungry. Making stack of pancakes, toast, all slathered in buttuh, plus 17 pounds of don’t tell my Rabbi bacon.

      • And Miles FTW!
        1 – drinking pickle juice
        2- “impacted”
        2- The well explained hugging policy
        3- folding Streisand into the hugging policy

        Thanks for starting my weekend out with all this wit. It was needed.

  12. You all can bicker about your subjective architectural likes and dislikes but the city does have a legally binding design review process. What I want to know is: what about the other discrepancies between the approved design and the built product referenced in this post:

    What’s happening with the other items that the Union Art Coop identified as having “violated several conditions of their Master Use Permit”?

    If you are interested in improving the quality of the built environment on Capitol Hill it all begins with enforcing the existing ordinances we already have. There’s not going to be a design and construction revolution that suddenly yields good architecture everywhere. This is an extremely complex industry with a ton of entrenched special interest. The example of the VIVA project is just one battle in a much larger war and in cases like this the builder MUST be held accountable to the conditions of the master use permit.

  13. Honest question, is brick even allowed as a material for new buildings? I believe it’s not in Los Angeles because of earthquake regulations.

    • Unreinforced masonry building are certainly not up to code, but “brick” buildings are allowed. Brick attached to stronger internal structure. Look at many of the new buildings on UW’s campus.

      • Thanks.

        At a distance, I wasn’t sure if it was real brick or a fake brick facade. (And in general, I have no clue about building materials.)

  14. Bobb and ERF. You are most welcome. Nice to be appreciated. My friends are sick of my shtick and I think I am too. Having a plethora of neuroses is simply exhausting. And to Calhoun: I did start writing a sort of Sedaris-ish book of essays. Begun in 2001 and it will never be finished due to a Words With Friends addiction. I feel like a failure but then I make a 179 point word and who cares about some damn book. So thanks for the compliments. And of course hugs all around

  15. Ines Patisserie is not good. Please stay away from there. Her pastry the most amazing thing I have ever tasted and I want you all to stay away so I can have some/all of it.

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