With eye toward 2019 reopening, officials break ground on $54M overhaul of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum

A ceremonial lifting of paving stones where construction will add an accessibility enhancements as part of the $54 million overhaul of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park

Leaders of the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation project commemorated the official start of construction with a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Parks and Recreation officials gave remarks and encouraged the community to continue their support of the $54 million renovation.

The prospect of neglecting the museum’s need for upgrades “would have been terrible and it would have been terrible for Capitol Hill,” said capital campaign co-chair Mimi Gardner Gates who greeted the audience. “Great cities are great because citizens step forward and make a difference.”

Seattle Art Museum is just is just $3 million shy of their $33 million commitment to the project and encouraging community support to reach the total.

The audience of about 50 bristled in the windy weather, gathered beneath a canopy to hear speeches from capital campaign co-chairs Gates and Gursharan Sidhu.

Superintendent of construction Jeremy Jones stood in the audience as the lineup symbolically broke ground with crowbars painted gold. It took seven people to lift two courtyard stones with golden levers for the audience in Volunteer Park. Continue reading

Here’s what will happen during ’14 to 15 months’ of Seattle Asian Art Museum construction

On March 13th, a ceremony will mark the start of more than a year of construction to overhaul and expand the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. The construction fences are already up. Neighbors and park lovers with questions about how the construction will impact the public space and surrounding neighborhood met with officials Thursday night.

Ahead of the official groundbreaking ceremony, representatives for the SAAM renovation project invited the community to Miller Community Center Thursday night for a construction presentation. Superintendents from the construction company BN Builders presented their build-out plan alongside the museum’s chief operating officer and a Volunteer Park projects manager.

The Seattle-based company BN Builders’s winning construction bid of $31.9 million includes conservation of park trees, subterranean wiring and new walking paths. Lingering questions about the project took the meeting over schedule by almost an hour. Continue reading

With start of construction on overhaul project, Seattle Asian Art Museum to hold community meeting

As work begins on the $54 million overhaul and expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, officials will hold a community meeting March 1st to discuss the coming “14–15 months” of construction:

Seattle Asia Art Museum Community Meeting

In January, the Seattle City Council made its final approvals of legislation that put the museum on track for a fall 2019 reopening.

The $54 million SAAM project has been designed to expand the 1933-built museum more than 13,000 square feet by extending the backside of the building 3,600 square feet into the park. The museum will add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades while making the museum ADA accessible. Last February, officials put the museum project back in motion after a brief pause. That month, visitors also said goodbye to SAAM before the planned two-year closure.

 

Updated Asian Art Museum lease proposal includes free visits, arts education for Seattle Public School students

Up against an end of year deadline, the Seattle City Council committee overseeing legislation required before the start of construction on the expansion of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum made a “ratify and confirm” decision on a 55-year lease for the continued operation of the cultural center. The council’s parks committee is now ready to get around to the confirm part of the business.

Friday afternoon, the Civic Development, Public Assets, and Native Communities Committee will hear public comment on the final two pieces of legislation in the SAAM expansion process. One bill, when approved, will alter city code to allow expansion of a “non conforming” museum inside a city park. It’s a custom patch written specifically for the SAAM expansion that will also limit any future expansion. Continue reading

With City Council set to pave way for construction, Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion planned to finally begin

Now with a price tag of around $54 million, the planned expansion and overhaul of the 84-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has been more methodical and procedural than its critics contended as they unsuccessfully tried to halt the project over the summer. Believe it or not, there is yet another important step in the process.

Thursday morning, the Seattle City Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries, and Waterfront Committee will take up two pieces of legislation to pave the way for construction on the project to finally begin in 2018 — a year after the museum closed to prepare for the work last February.

With city council approval of the two bills, SAAM should return in full glory — with 13,000 more square feet of space and with important climate control system and seismic upgrades — by October 2019. Continue reading

Group denied in bid to halt Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion in Volunteer Park

Before a busy weekend of Pride and cycling in the park, there is good news for one of a slate of major projects lined up to improve Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park.

The city’s Hearing Examiner has denied the appeal from a community group seeking to halt the $49 million overhaul and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum. In a ruling issued prior to this week’s scheduled hearing on the appeal, Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner denied the group’s effort to require a costly environmental impact study for the project, reversing a decision from the city’s planning department. Continue reading

Protect Volunteer Park group appeals Seattle Asian Art Museum decision

A citizens group seeking to put up a major barrier to the $49 million plan to overhaul the infrastructure of the 1933-built Seattle Asian Art Museum and expand it 3,600 square feet into its home Volunteer Park is looking for public support — and funding — for its last-ditch appeal against the project:

On June 7th a hearing examiner will consider our appeal and we are preparing to provide as much expert testimony as needed to illuminate the threats to Volunteer Park and the museum building. The Protect Volunteer Park team has retained the prominent, environmental attorney David Bricklin of Bricklin Newman LLP. Thus far, our team has been donating their time and energy as well as the funds for months of legal counsel. We now need more financial help, so we can keep protecting the park from the museum expansion.

The appeal from the group calling itself Protect Volunteer Park asks the Hearing Examiner to require a costly environmental impact study for the project, reversing a decision from the city’s planning department.

The project is planned to begin construction by the end of this year has been designed to expand the 1933-built museum more than 13,000 square feet by extending the backside of the building 3,600 square feet into the park. The museum will add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible. In February, officials put the museum project back in motion after a brief pause.

While hearings in front of the examiner are open to the public there is no opportunity for public comment beyond the testimony of the appellant and the applicant.

Learn more about Protect Volunteer Park at protectvolunteerpark.org. For more about SAAM’s plans for expansion, visit seattleartmuseum.org/inspire.

‘The project pause has been lifted’ — Officials satisfied for Volunteer Park museum expansion to move forward

Over the weekend, CHS reported on the last visits to the Seattle Asian Art Museum before two years of construction and word from Seattle Parks official Michael Shiosaki of an “un-pausing” of the $49 million plan to overhaul the infrastructure of the 1933-built museum and expand it 3,600 square feet into its home Volunteer Park.

Monday morning, a spokesperson for parks and rec head Jesus Aguirre confirmed that the superintendent is ready for the project to get back on track.

The responses that SAAM provided to the issues raised by the community display an alignment with the mission and values of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The museum contributes to the use and activation of Volunteer Park and is an asset of our parks system that we treasure. We look forward to continuing public discussions about the project and have communicated to SAAM that the project pause has been lifted.

Continue reading

Visitors say goodbye, for now, to Capitol Hill’s Seattle Asian Art Museum

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As Capitol Hill’s Seattle Asian Art Museum welcomes hundreds of visitors this weekend for a last round of free tours before closing its doors to make ready for a multiyear construction project, none will know exactly when the park’s cultural center will reopen and what shape a planned overhaul and expansion to the 84-year-old building will take.

Seattle Asian Art Museum closing weekend open house

As visitors get a last chance to enjoy Tabaimo: Utsutsushi Utsushi, or Terratopia: The Chinese Landscape in Painting and Film, and Ai Weiwei: Colored Vases, officials have yet to work out a perspective that moves the project forward. Continue reading

Parks letter calls for ‘project pause’ as Seattle Asian Art Museum prepares for February move-out day

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No matter what twists and turns the public process around its $49 million overhaul and expansion take, at the end of February, the treasures of the Seattle Asian Art Museum will be wrapped up, hauled off, and safely packed away leaving the old art deco landmark empty and ready for a much needed construction project to begin. The start of that construction and eventual reopening, however, will be a little further off after a “project pause” requested by Seattle Parks superintendent Jesus Aguirre in a letter sent to Seattle Art Museum director Kim Rorschach:

In response to continuing public scrutiny of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) renovation and expansion project at Volunteer Park, we would like to take a “project pause” to enable us to respond to community members and the Board of Park Commissioners on an array of issues that have been raised during the public involvement process. That pause will help Seattle Parks and Recreation better understand some of the project’s driver and more carefully consider park impacts.

“Thank you for your ongoing partnership as we work together to ensure whatever final project is built is in the best interests of Seattle Art Museum and Seattle’s park and recreation system,”

“Don’t say we’re not pausing,” Rorschach told CHS this week. “We are following the city’s directions on this.”

But Rorschach said the museum’s move-out date is set in stone. Continue reading