Pictures from the crowd: Seattle Pride March and Volunteer Park Pride Festival

Thousands marched Sunday from Capitol Hill to support LGBTQ rights (Image: SDOT)

CHS may be taking a break this summer but the crowd is still busy taking great pictures and videos. Here are a few of the best we’ve found from the weekend’s happenings at Saturday’s Volunteer Park Pride Festival and Sunday’s Seattle Pride March. You’ll also find a bonus video from the 2017 Volunteer Park Criterium. Thanks, crowd! Happy Pride!

And then a parade rolled through.

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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.

Standing ovation for design for new Volunteer Park amphitheater, still questions about museum expansion

Members of the Capitol Hill community spoke with Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust on April 6 at the Volunteer Park Conservatory (Image:)

Members of the Capitol Hill community spoke with Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust about the new amphitheater designs on April 6 at the Volunteer Park Conservatory (Image: Grace Kramer for CHS)

By Grace Kramer, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

The Volunteer Park amphitheater renovation project is drawing closer to approval and residents gathered Thursday night to discuss the proposed designs.

Owen Richards Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust invited the community for an open house on the proposed designs for the Volunteer Park amphitheater and there were lots of opinions, especially about another Volunteer Park renovation project, the Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion.

“It’s the first design I’ve seen in Seattle recently that’s actually an improvement,”  said Marge Mackinnon, a Capitol Hill resident, about the new amphitheater.

The SAAM expansion, on the other hand?

“There are lots of art museums in Seattle,” said Mackinnon, “To destroy part of the park sucks.”

This isn’t the first time that the public has had a chance to see the amphitheater’s proposed designs. ORA Architects and the Volunteer Park Trust, as part of the terms of their funding grant from the Neighborhood Matching Fund, have been required to keep the design process transparent. They’ve done many public meetings and open houses so that the community can provide feedback on their designs.

Owen Richards, founder and principal architect with ORA, has worked on other projects like Chihuly Garden and Glass. He said that when he holds public events for buildings and structures he’s nervous because changes in a neighborhood are typically emotionally charged, but he doesn’t feel that way about the Volunteer Park amphitheater.

“At this point we’ve talked so much with the public it doesn’t feel controversial,” he said.  Continue reading

Something upon which we can all agree: Hurrah for the new Volunteer Park amphitheater

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(Image: ORA Architects)

It’s been kind of a tough year for new things but one project coming to Capitol Hill seems to have risen above the tumult. Thursday, you can celebrate that general sense of neighborhood goodwill with the Volunteer Park Trust and check out the latest designs for a new amphitheater in the much loved northern Capitol Hill park:

Amphitheater Design – Open House

CHS showed you some of the latest designs and ideas behind the concepts last month.  The updated design calls for the translucent roof over the stage to be wavy, “referencing a leaf” with pivoting doors, instead of sliding, for a backstage area and new bathrooms as well as a flexible room that can be used for costume changes and storage. Other plans for the new amphitheater call for re-grading the seating area with a focus on reducing the flat space in front of the stage and improving ADA accessibility.

The new amphitheater is planned to be located just north of the current one which is masonry and in need of replacement.

Following Thursday’s meeting, ORA Architects will incorporate feedback and refine the final plans.  Grants from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and funds from Volunteer Park Trust have moved the project forward so far. The Seattle Parks Foundation will be the driver for fundraising and grant seeking to bring the project to life. The total project cost — design through construction — is estimated to be between $3 million and $4 million.

Construction is planned for fall 2018 with the new amphitheater hosting its first performances in July 2019.

You can learn more at volunteerparktrust.org.

Designs for new amphitheater at Volunteer Park nearing completion

FRONT STAGE IN USEORA Architects is finalizing the schematic design for Volunteer Park’s new amphitheater, which it plans to present to the public in the first week of April.

There may be a few tweaks to the project after the public presentation, but overall the concept is established, Emily Perchlik, with ORA, told CHS.

“It’s going to be a terrific addition to Volunteer Park,” said Eliza Davidson, chair of the Amphitheater Task Force. “… It’s blossomed into something that is a much bigger contribution to the character and use of the park.” Continue reading

Investigation determines Capitol Hill woman accidentally drowned in Volunteer Park lily pond

Investigators say that Capitol Hill resident Amy Vanderbeck’s January death in a few feet-deep Volunteer Park lily pond was an accidental drowning.

The King County Medical Examiner confirmed the finding this week with the completion of toxicology reports some three months after the 49-year-old’s body was pulled from the pond near the park’s iconic water tower. Vanderbeck was found in the water wearing a heavy coat on the morning of January 9th. Police said there was no sign of foul play.

Vanderbeck is remembered as a longtime part of the Capitol Hill and the Seattle coffee scene as a popular Vivace barista who opened Watertown cafe on 12th Ave with two fellow Vivace employees before closing the venue in 2010. Vanderbeck also worked in tech and as an audio engineer and video producer.

A few hundred friends and family gathered at the Century Ballroom following her death to remember their loved one and mourn before walking together to the pond in Volunteer Park where she died.

A giving fund raised more than $30,000 to help cover the cost of a memorial in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery:

We are devastated by the loss of Amy Vanderbeck. One of Capitol Hill’s brightest stars, she was loved far and wide. Amy was creative, passionate, hilarious, irreverent and loyal. She is the third of four sisters — the “Vandersisters” — who are incredibly close. Lisa, Jenny, and Katy knew it was dangerous to meet Amy. She would make you part of the “Vanderbeck Mafia,” which means you are in the family for life. Those who have known this honor are heartbroken. Her creative talents are listed on IMDb. She recently created the Struggle to Connect podcast.  She was intimate with quantum physics and wicked with a mixing board. In typical Amy fashion, she also accidentally became a star of Japanese television while attending a soccer game.

‘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.

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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

We don’t know what’s next for the Volunteer Park stump tree…

But we like it. We’ve asked Seattle Parks about the cutback tree that has become a “natural” play structure near the Volunteer Park amphitheater but we’re pretty sure they have something better to deal with on a Friday than the latest CHS goose chase. All we know is the tree was clipped weeks ago and we assumed it would be fully removed. It’s still there. We’ll update when we hear more about the park’s strange (and fun) new feature. In the meantime, along with the jade vine and the last few days before a long closure for the Seattle Asian Art Museum, you have a few reasons to gather up a few friends and visit Volunteer Park this weekend.

UPDATE: Yay for Seattle Parks. Here’s what they told us about the tree — and its future:

This is a large cedar tree that was damaged and blown over as part of the snow we recently experienced. Crews will likely leave some of the tree in place, but will probably need to cut some of the tree further back to make it safe for the long term.

Fur-ther? Nice one, Parks.