CHS Video | Happy 100th birthday to Kelly Springfield (or, why they’re ‘tearing down’ the old Capitol Hill REI)

Though her construction began in 1917, she was actually born a year later so you still have time to get a gift. 11th Ave’s Kelly Springfield Motor Truck building is celebrating 100 years on the planet with a massive facelift. And, let’s be honest. Pretty much all that will be left of her is her face. Longtime CHS video contributor David Albright captured the 11th Ave changes of the former auto row facility, then REI, then Value Village in motion:

Kelly Springfield Motor Truck Building (1917-2017) from David Albright on Vimeo.

Critics call it facadism. Progressive architects — and others — point to the preservation of character and volume. While, indeed, not much is preserved when the preservation projects dig in, the neighborhood’s Conservation Overlay District’s incentive program has produced a handful of very large, more interesting than average developments across Pike/Pine.

The Kelly Springfield office + preservation project is on its way to becoming another one. But getting there looks more like a demolition than a preservation. Continue reading

Marijuana powered media company Top Tree puts down roots on Capitol Hill

14344906_1751160281801142_1287610356336041428_nThis post has been updated with information from Top Tree’s management

A new media venture powered by Seattle’s burgeoning legal cannabis culture is hard at work on Capitol Hill in a space that was once home to an upstart campaign headquarters and an equally rebellious drag queen-inspired cosmetics company.

Top Tree, a marijuana-focused culture magazine and digital advertising agency, has quietly moved into the overhauled retail space at Pike and Boylston formerly home to the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Seattle headquarters and, before that, Jen’s House of Beauty. Glimpses of the now-bustling office can be seen through the art wrap-coated windows. A new keyless security panel guards the front door that had become a favorite camping spot for people on the street in the months since the campaign workers departed earlier this year.

“It’s definitely changed,” Top Tree director of operations Benito Ybarra tells CHS of the neighborhood he grew up hanging out in. “But to be represented on Capitol Hill and on Pike Street specifically, we’re very proud of that.”

While its office space is secreted away, Top Tree’s presence on Capitol Hill is unmissable. The company has been responsible for the series of large murals on the E Pike wall of Neumos since summer — including a recent edition featuring Mariner great and Seattle icon Ken Griffey Jr. Meanwhile, stacks of the free zine-sized publication with day glo colors, a healthy selection of local advertising, and trippy cover imagery can be found in cafes and shops across the neighborhood and beyond.

“I always believed in being physically real for people,” Ybarra said.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s greenest office space is full (but you can still get your own desk)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The world’s first “living” office building is now full to capacity with long-term tenants and working on approval for the final piece of its energy conservation system. Meanwhile, just as the building eliminates the coworking space it initially had, one tenant is opening up its own.

The Bullitt Center at 1501 E Madison was completed in 2013. The building’s claim to the ‘greenest office building’ title comes from its commitment to producing a net zero of energy and water use over the course of every year. The building has 575 solar panels on the roof to collect energy, and a 50,000 square foot cistern to gather rainwater for building use. Each organization in the center gets an energy and water budget based on the square footage it occupies.

The building started out with a coworking space and an assortment of smaller tenants, and has now worked its way up to seven large tenants, most of which are on seven year leases. Bullitt Center spokesperson Brad Kahn said that as a landlord, it is easier to have seven large tenants than 50 small ones. The building has also shut down the coworking space it used to have on the fourth floor, which Kahn said was a stop-gap while the center searched for larger tenants.

One of those tenants is opening up its own coworking space in the building, however. The International Future Living Institute is in the process of moving to a new space in the Bullitt Center, and opened up some of its old digs for coworking as of this month. Continue reading

Pilot Lab next tech firm to put growing Pike/Pine office space to use

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

1601214_1397960873797577_484392803_nAs its longtime Capitol Hill developer sought to extend Pike/Pine’s entertainment district borders to the south with his Central Agency building, a new wave of neighborhood energy beyond nightlife and dining has also been harnessed. After a $100,000+ work space buildout inside the overhauled E Seneca warehouse, software and design company Pilot Lab plans to join the roster of companies opening offices on Capitol Hill.

“Capitol Hill’s a thriving great place for design and tech firms,” Pilot Lab co-founder Ian Sands tells CHS. “There’s more and more happening there.”

The 10-person tech concern is part of a small wave of companies that have found Pike/Pine homes as developers in the neighborhood have increasingly tried to diversify investments in the area beyond the standard restaurant + retail + apartments mixed-use recipe typically deployed. Continue reading

Here’s what it looks like when Capitol Hill architects design their own office

The architects at the Capitol Hill architecture firm Board and Vellum are enjoying the results of some of their latest work — their own new office space on 15th Ave E.

“We’re all beyond giddy,” said principal and founder Jeff Pelletier. “It’s rare for architects to get to design their own space, and we were just given a blank slate to do with what we wanted to do with it, and it’s just turned out fantastic.”

The firm was created more than five years ago in Pelletier’s Capitol Hill attic. Once they expanded enough to need a more formal office, Board and Vellum moved downtown for a year, then to a space in Capitol Hill off 16th Ave, where they stayed for the past three years. Pelletier says that office was made for about 11 people but was holding all 21 members of the firm. It got old quickly. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Chophouse Row grand opening

IMG_3192 LizDunn


Capitol Hill-focused developer Liz Dunn was all smiles Thursday night as her years-in-the-making Chophouse Row development celebrated its grand opening with music, previews of coming-soon food and drink offerings, and wandering crowds exploring the mix of modern construction and auto row-era preservation.

CHS wrote about the Chophouse roster of food, drink, and retail tenants here including farm-to-ice cream cone champion Kurt Timmermeister who has taken a 300-square-foot patch of space for his dairy-powered cream and cheese ventureKurt Farm Shop. The centerpiece Chop Shop Cafe is still a few weeks out from opening after last-minute permit delays. Meanwhile, the new project built out of — and above — the shell of the old building that used to be home to Chophouse Studios also brings together Dunn’s 12th Ave Piston Ring building, the Thomas Kundig-designed 1111 E Pike building home to Cupcake Royale, and her E Pike Baker Linen building home to offices and Retrofit Home.

The Chophouse Row is Dunn’s second “open marketplace” development on the Hill joining the critically-acclaimed Melrose Market. The project was designed by Sundberg, Kennedy and Ly-Au Young, and Graham Baba.

Dunn told CHS she originally envisioned the project to include housing but that changing times and a need for more daytime activity in the neighborhood convinced her to switch gears and build office space above the ground-floor commercial spaces. You can check out details here on the trio of tech companies lucky enough to work above all that goodness below. The project did, however, include three penthouses. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Dunn says the exclusive spaces are already filled.

Lots more pictures, below. Continue reading

Music tech maker Sonos opens Bullitt Center office

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

Another tech company is making a home on Capitol Hill. California-based wireless speaker and audio technology company Sonos has announced it is opening an engineering office for 70 employees inside super green office building the Bullitt Center at 15th and E Madison.

Bullitt Center representatives said the new office makes the “greenest office building in the world” now 100% leased. Earlier this year, the center’s developers at the Bullitt Foundation celebrated the two-year-old project’s Living Building Certification. The Bullitt Center is the first office building to receive the certification awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — self-sufficient for water and energy and actively promoting the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

UPDATE: A company spokesperson tells CHS that joining the Bullitt Center comes with added responsibilities. Tenants are expected to meet standards for energy consumption and be part of the building’s non-toxic material requirements. “We’re excited to be part of an environment that will encourage us to be thoughtful,” the Sonos representative said.

Sonos will begin with an engineering team of 10 in its new Seattle office with hopes to grow the teams working here to around 70. The engineering work done at the Bullitt will primarily focus on the company’s software, the spokesperson said.

Sonos hardware

Sonos hardware

The Sonos announcement comes amid a small wave of new tech firms finding new spaces in the neighborhood including the newly opened Chophouse Row development that Mazlo, Tectonic, and Glympse now call home.

“Our new and growing team in Seattle will take up residence at the iconic Bullitt Center, known as the greenest commercial building in the world, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the Sonos announcement on the new office reads. “We look forward to taking in the iconic ‘Seattle Sound,’ incredible music venues, the local Capitol Hill Block Party music festival, as well as the sounds of whatever the team has lined up in the Sonos queue.”

While the building has been a major success on the green construction front, it’s taken more than two years to fully lease the five-story center beyond the initial tenant roster. Like Sonos, not all tenants are environment-focused businesses or organizations but all tend to be forward looking and design focused. In 2013, for example, construction firm Hammer & Hand joined the building.

Here are the current Bullitt tenants Sonos is joining:

  • Bullitt Foundation
  • Hammer & Hand
  • Intentional Futures
  • International Living Future Institute
  • PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Point32
  • University of Washington Integrated Design Lab

Space in the building was going for $30 per square foot. Sonos is claiming about 14,000 square feet, the company representative said.

With around 300 employees, Sonos also has offices in Santa Barbara, and Boston in the United States, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, The United Kingdom, and China. The company’s vice president of software development told the PSBJ Sonos will have room for about 70 employees in the Bullitt Center office. We’ll have to follow up to find out if the Bullitt Center will be able to deploy a full Sonos music system on every floor — and still meet its green benchmarks. UPDATE: Yup — Sonos will be deploying Sonos gear on their floor and a half of office space, we’re told.

Tech companies Mazlo and Tectonic complete trio of Chophouse Row office tenants

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)


IMG_0422There are plenty of reasons why design firm Tectonic wanted to be part of Liz Dunn’s nearly complete Chophouse Row development and preservation project. But on a warm and sunny spring day, having a private outdoor patio definitely tops list.

“It’s rare to have such cool space,” Tectonic’s Vanessa Knudson told CHS while taking in the Capitol Hill views from her company’s second floor patio.

Tectonic was the first office tenant to move into the 11th Ave building between Pike and Union building at the end of March after relocating from 12th Ave. Along with mobile technology startups Glympse and Mazlo, the three companies and their roughly 50 employees have quickly gobbled up the project’s two floors of private office space.

Specializing in creating “next generation software experiences,” Knudson said Tectonic’s design-focused team was drawn to Chophouse’s “relaxing and inspiring” space. The second floor office, just over 3,000 square feet, matches the rest of the building’s refined industrial vibe with exposed steel beams, reclaimed wood, and high ceilings.

And just in case the dozens of watering holes within a stones throw of the building won’t suffice, Tectonic has already installed its own bar. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center becomes world’s first ‘living’ office building

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(Image: CHS)

One day, thinking robots will deeply challenge our notion of what constitutes a living thing. Thinking buildings that completely sustain themselves may do the same and E Madison’s Bullitt Center is evidently leading the way.

Billed as the greenest commercial building in the world, the Bullitt Center was recently awarded the Living Building Certification. It’s the first office building to get the designation, considered the most rigorous sustainability certification in the world. CHS wrote about the Bullitt’s nomination last year. We were also there when it opened to much applause and greater expectations in April 2013.

The Living Building certification is awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — one that is self-sufficent for water and energy and actively promotes the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

Solar panels atop the 15th and Madison building produce an excess amount of energy sold back to Seattle City Light, human waste is composted, graywater is treated onsite, and the estimated 1,000 different building materials and products used to build the center are devoid of hundreds of typical toxic chemicals.

Running it all is the building’s “brain,” which automatically adjusts systems to optimize for the for the time of day, time of year, the number of people in the building, CO2 levels, and weather.

“We think of this building as a living thing,” said Bullitt spokesperson Brad Kahn. Continue reading

Killer Infographics brings more daytime desk action to Capitol Hill


Inside Killer Infographics above Six Arms (Image: Killer Infographics)

One of the latest to companies to move its offices to Capitol Hill and bring more daytime activity to the neighborhood is Killer Infographics. The company moved its 23-member staff from Fremont to an office space above Six Arms last month.

To celebrate the move to Melrose and E Pike, the graphic design agency specializing in infographics created this Capitol Hill-inspired timeline:

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.28.36 PM

Check out the full INFOGRAPHIC: A HISTORY OF CAPITOL HILL from Killer Infographics

For co-founder Nick Grant, moving to Capitol Hill brings the business closer to its downtown clients while putting his designers in a more dynamic urban environment. Continue reading