Calling the project a “harbinger of a new era” and drawing comparisons to the Anasazi pueblos, Istanbul’s Eye of Hagia Sofia, the development of the flying buttress and erection of the first steel skyscrapers, Bullitt Foundation president and CEO Denis Hayes made it clear Monday afternoon that he believes the start of construction on the $30 million Bullitt Center at 15th and Madison was a historic moment for Seattle.
Hayes said the new building is designed to be one of the greenest in world — and one of the most enduring with a planned operational life of 250 years, some 210 years longer than the typical commercial construction, Hayes said. The project is planned to be complete in late 2012, according to the developers.
Monday’s ceremony included Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine as well as Richard Conlin, whose City Council passed Seattle’s Living Building Program in late 2009. McGinn also took advantage of the event to remind people that his Office of Economic Development had invested $10 million in New Markets Tax Credits to assist with the project’s private financing.
In addition to Hayes, the Bullitt Foundation was represented by board chair Maggie Walker and Harriet Bullitt, herself, daughter of founder Dorothy Stimson Bullitt.
Harriet Bullitt’s comments on the day were clearly the most un-scripted — and the most interesting. Saying her mother would have loved the planned building, Bullitt said her mother “was not really a environmentalist — she just lived that way.”
“We are very proud to have our name associated with it,” she said. Bullitt, who will turn 87 this Friday, also said she was happy the project will go forward “bending old rules.”