I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but we are lucky enough to live in one of the most incredible neighborhoods in Seattle. It is a place where creative new buildings, such as Capitol Hill Housing’s award winning Broadway Crossing and ‘starchitect’ Tom Kundig’s 1111 E. Pike intermingle with pieces of history such as the Oddfellows Building, Holy Names Academy, and even Seattle’s oldest standing home. It is a place where innovative businesses such as iLike and Cafe Vita make waves on the national scene, and where global chains are replaced by local Mexican eateries. Jimi Hendrix is memorialized here, Bruce Lee was buried here, and President Obama even lived up here as a baby. Oh, did I mention we are also the densest part of Seattle, if not the entire Pacific Northwest (Canada excluded)?
Unlike the rather empty tracts of land along MLK, the Sound Transit Link Light Rail Station currently under construction on Capitol Hill will be at the heart of one of the most culturally, artistically, historically, and culinarily rich areas in all of the Puget Sound region. Also unlike ST’s past projects, they decided to actually purchase the land above the station and they have asked us, the community for input on what to do with it.
The four hour design charrette this Saturday, paid for and hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the TOD Stakeholders Group, is a chance for everyone in the community to open their minds and envision the most grandiose possibilities for the 3 acres of asphalt along Broadway. Not only is it a chance to share ideas and listen to others but sketch artists will be on hand to help people actually try and conceptualize what some of these possibilities will look like. At the end of the year the results of this design charrette will be presented to Sound Transit, who will presumably use the ideas generated here to decide what to build in the future.
Want to see an extension of Cal Anderson park that meanders into a public plaza for the Broadway Farmer’s Market? Maybe you dream of a wonderful community center with views of downtown and Mt. Rainer? Perhaps you envision a beautiful icon, visible from all over Seattle, with the architectural integrity to be placed next to the Space Needle and the Central Library on Seattle postcards? Well this is your chance to share such ideas and actually have them incorporated into reality.
Earlier this week the Capitol Hill Community Council’s Planning and Policy Committee met to discuss the Broadway TOD*. The most common thread among us was the desire to have the development on this site stand for hundreds of years to come, for these buildings to be a timeless example of world class architecture, the likes of the Pompidou or the Louvre in Paris. With Sound Transit owning the property and the city open to land use changes, the community is able to go far beyond the standard mixed-use developments and actually envision something that will fundamentally enhance our already amazing neighborhood. But the key here is the community; we need to show Sound Transit and the City just how important this site is to us. Coming to the Design Charrette this Saturday is a perfect opportunity to show your support and participation.
Inspiration? (Image: Transbay Transit Center)
While it was sad to see some of the old buildings come down, we have been given an unprecedented opportunity. We now have 3 acres of land in one of Seattle’s greatest neighborhoods to play with. It is like we have been given an empty canvas and all the tools and paints we could ever dream of and told to do what we want. But again, the only way this will work is if we, as a community, are active and involved. We need to prove to Sound Transit and the City that this isn’t your typical development site, but that this project has the potential to tie all of Capitol Hill’s greatest pieces together in a once-in-a-lifetime achievement of urban expression. Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s greatest neighborhoods, but it could be one of the world’s greatest neighborhoods. Its up to you, so sign up for the Design Charrette now!
Broadway Design Charrette
Saturday, September 12th, 2009, 1-5pm
SU A&A Building, 12th and Marion [map]
* If you too would like to be a part of the Planning and Policy Committee send an email to [email protected] and we’ll put you on the email list and keep you up to date on all things planning on Capitol Hill.