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

Does museum expansion plan make Volunteer Park a ‘threatened’ landscape?

An influential Washington D.C. foundation has added Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park to its list of “nationally significant at-risk and threatened” landscapes due to the $49 million planned expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. But a longtime leader of the local group that protects the park says the designation goes too far.

What The Cultural Landscape Foundation is calling for “would be very punishing” Doug Bayley of the Volunteer Park Trust tells CHS.

“A full stop would set everybody back years,” Bayley said. “I think it’s totally salvageable. I see it as an ongoing conversation.” Continue reading

A look at all sides in Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion debate

We can work this out. The proposed overhaul and expansion of the 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has become a bone of contention in the neighborhood around Volunteer Park. Another three dozen citizens had their say on the potential environmental impact of the project — including views and park use — Thursday night, adding to the dozens of letters already received on the project from all sides in the argument. During Thursday night’s proceedings, CHS heard arguments in support of the project and others with hopes of scaling it back. Here is a look at both sides.

The meeting on Thursday drew about 40 commenters on the project. A little more than half spoke in favor of the planned fall 2017 project that would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to 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.

Here is what we heard from the proponents Thursday night:

  • The expansion fits in the Olmsted vision and the museum has engaged the community and made changes based on public input. Continue reading

Reminder: Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion land use meeting

Another night, another important development meeting for an iconic part of the Capitol Hill landscape. Thursday, City of Seattle officials will hold a meeting to provide an opportunity for citizen comment on the environmental impact of the three-story, 13,650 square-foot project that includes a seismic and systems overhaul of the 83-year-old building home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a 3,600 square-foot expansion of the facility.

CHS reported here on the petition that put the public hearing on the schedule. Museum officials say they support the opportunity for more public feedback on the project during its “Master Use Permit” application process.

Seattle Asian Art Museum Land Use Public Meeting

The planned fall 2017 project would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to 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. The project has faced a wave of opposition from neighbors but a museum representative said the tide of public feedback received has shifted after a CHS story documented the first letters on the projects from neighbors — a tally late last week, showed 56 letters in support of the project, 43 opposed, and six “other/neutral.”

While the comments collected are important, the final decision won’t be a vote decided by the public. Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections planners must weigh the proposed project’s potential environmental impact including views and recreational use in the landmarks-protected Volunteer Park. In addition to speaking Thursday night, comments can also be sent to PRC@seattle.gov referencing project #3024753.

 

Citizen petition forces meeting on Seattle Asian Art Museum overhaul and expansion

From the project's "geotechnical" report

From the project’s “geotechnical” report

In an effort to drive massive web traffic and create some sexy Facebook clickbait, we are posting about yet another Volunteer Park and Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion meeting. Yes, it’s true. Another meeting on the proposal to improve the 1933-built museum’s climate control system, perform need seismic upgrades, make the museum ADA accessible, and expand the facility by 3,600 square feet will take place next week after the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections was petitioned to hold a public meeting on the pending approval of the project in the city’s land use permit process. Continue reading