Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum shows designs for ‘park lobby’ expansion and overhaul

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

(Image: SAAM/LMN)

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-01-43-amThe Seattle Art Museum presented its design for the upgrades and expansion of Volunteer Park’s Asian Art Museum in a community meeting held in the International District on Saturday morning. The design makes major changes to the east-facing “back” of the landmark 1933 building in Volunteer Park, featuring some floor-to-ceiling windows in levels one and two and a striking glass “park lobby” on level three of the extension.

The park lobby would allow people inside the museum a park view that includes an impressive beech tree, and allow people outside to look up at art displays inside the museum. Architect Sam Miller of LMN architects, the firm designing the upgrade and extension, explained the design goal of integrating the park on both sides with the museum space itself.

The rather sophisticated design is a complete change from the grey, utilitarian back of the museum as it is now, which looks unfinished and harsh in contrast to the pink stone and Beaux Arts Art Deco style of the front of the building. The upgrade could, as Miller suggested, achieve an added bonus of making the space behind the museum safer in that would be overlooked and less cutoff from the rest of the park.

As he talked through a slide show of the design (the full presentation is below), Miller stressed that it had been modified in keeping with feedback from the public — there were community meetings in July and August and future meetings are scheduled for October, November and December. The external stairway in an earlier draft is now inside of the building, and an extruding elevator is now tucked in and hiding behind a tree. Continue reading

A playful idea for Capitol Hill’s first pavement park

Summit Denny Meeting Boards.pg3An element of puzzling and play and lessons from the first pavement parks on First Hill could be part of the design for a new open space along E Olive Way after a community brainstorm on the project last week.

At Thursday’s Capitol Hill Community Council meeting, the Seattle Department of Transportation invited the public to contribute ideas for a new Pavement to Park project at Summit and Denny.

Among design ideas floated at the meeting were interactive features — perhaps a painted maze, like the one at the new Seattle Center playground. The Pronto bike racks currently housed on that stretch of Summit will remain, but could be moved as a block or split in two to form traffic edges. Coming up, the city will hold a community event at the park’s location to show off a design concept and gather more feedback. Continue reading

As thousands walk new 520, Arboretum begins Loop Trail construction

IMG_6445

As thousands from around Seattle visited the new 520 bridge over the weekend — waiting in amazingly long lines so long, officials had to close down the celebration’s shuttle runs early to better handle the crowds already in the middle of Lake Washington — a much, much smaller part of the massive construction project is moving forward to create a new community asset to enjoy the swath of nature preserved at the eastern base of Capitol Hill.

The Washington Park Arboretum has seen plenty of alterations since it was sketched to an Olmstead plan in the 1900s. Now, with $7.8 million in 520 construction mitigation funds from WSDOT, the rambling park/botanic collection is getting an enhancement that has been on the wish list for years: a 12-foot-wide paved path for walkers, wheelchairs, slow bikes, and strollers. The “slow” in “slow bikes” is operable — the path is to improve access to the plant collection and was designed with curves undesirable for your fast bike commute.

Meanwhile, the new 520 — the “longest floating bridge in the world,” they say — is ready to open to traffic later this month. Watch for lots of planned closures of the crossing during the transition. Seattle’s western edge of the project including “a box girder style bridge including a bike and pedestrian path over Portage Bay, redesigned highway lids with a new land bridge, and multimodal connectivity improvements” remains under construction.Loop Trail map

In the Arboretum, starting at the southern end of the Arboretum at 31st and Madison, the 1.2 mile path will proceed along the east side of Lake Washington Blvd. to Arboretum Drive through what is often a swampy valley with puddles. It will connect to the existing paved path to make an accessible, all-weather 2.5-mile loop. Construction has already started, and is scheduled for completion in December 2017. Continue reading

A look at where new I-5 lid would fit in between Capitol Hill and downtown

There are plenty of nicknames for the concrete canyon of I-5 as it bisects downtown and First Hill, particularly at Pike and Pine, where the center of downtown leads up to the Paramount Theatre and then drops off.  Pedestrians continuing up to Capitol Hill have narrow sidewalks on the freeway overpasses, with traffic on one side and a deep abyss of roaring I-5 traffic on the other.

Community Design CharetteMay 7th, 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts

Community Design Charette
May 7th, 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts

Even in the early 1960s, some far-sighted Seattleites called to “Block the Ditch” planned for I-5, but the freeway bulldozed through anyway. Now, with the Washington State Convention Center pushing ahead with plans to expand capacity by building on an additional downtown site, there’s hope that “vacating” some streets at the edge of I-5 to accommodate WSCC’s plans could be traded for opportunities to lid I-5. Some grand conceptualizations for lidding I-5 and replacing our concrete canyon with pedestrian-friendly development and green spaces have been covered by CHS in recent months. The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council has set May 7th, from 8 AM to 1 PM at 12th Ave Arts for a community design charette to set a vision for the effort.

One of the crew with a vision for fixing Seattle’s “urban scar” is Scott Bonjukian, education and programming director for The Urbanist, the nonprofit that partnered with the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council to host a Sunday morning walking tour on  lidding I-5.

The tour starts at Freeway Park, built as an  I-5 lid in 1976. We gather at the plaza at 6th and Seneca, one of the few areas of the park that is open to and fully visible from the street. Its lack of “way signs and sightlines,” says Bonjukian, is a reason the park is underused, even in the daytime. He says most people are unaware that there are a total of 10 entry/exit points to this park—they’re concealed around concrete corners and down dark passages. Continue reading

With First Hill pavement parks success, city planning more in 2016 including one on Capitol Hill

If you climbed First Hill at University, Union, and Boylston last summer, you might have been surprised by the sudden appearance of a colorful Mediterranean-style plaza that had replaced a dingy and utterly confusing semi-triangular intersection. This is “UUB,” the pavement park put together by the First Hill Improvement Association and the City of Seattle. It was soon dotted with local residents who looked comfortably at home. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at this sunny space with its turquoise-painted pavement, café tables, and lime-green umbrellas reflecting up at the surrounding buildings?

UUB is one of two Pavement to Parks projects piloted over the summer under the city’s Adaptive Streets program. The other is the similarly turquoise pavement park at 9th and University. Their August openings were part of a summer of “tactical urbanism” around Central Seattle that included a lukewarm response to a new “streatery” opportunity and a test of a Pike/Pine pedestrian zone that rankled some area business interests while providing some fantastic photographic opportunities.

With space for parks in the neighborhoods around Capitol Hill requiring more and more creative solutions (see also: 12th Ave Square Park), reception for the First Hill parks has been more positive. In 2016, in fact, City Hall will move forward with similar projects in four more locations — including Capitol Hill.

Susan McLaughlin, urban design and transport strategic adviser to SDOT, summarized the feedback from residents. “We found that the success of the space was just the ability to sit in a safe open public space,” she said. “This is an area where the older apartment buildings don’t always have an open space of their own.” Continue reading