– Seattle Design Commission Awards recognize exceptional new public projects
The Seattle Design Commission Chair Julie Bassuk announced the winners of the commission’s 2010-2011 Design Excellence Awards. The five winning projects were selected from the many public buildings, parks, open spaces, and vision plans completed in Seattle in the past two years. They were chosen because they promote the mission and exemplify the values of the Seattle Design Commission: inspired design, contextual integration, innovative sustainability, social inclusion, exemplary partnerships, effective investment, and impeccable execution. For the first time an “In the Works” award was given to a project that hasn’t been constructed, but has had an exemplary design process and holds outstanding potential.
“These projects enhance our neighborhoods,” said Chair Julie Bassuk. “We’d like to acknowledge the work of City staff, private developers, designers, and community members that go the extra mile in making Seattle’s built environment great.”
Each year, the Seattle Design Commission, made up of ten appointed professionals from design-related fields, spends over a thousand hours reviewing capital projects in Seattle totaling a value of over $1.1 billion.
Winners were recognized at an awards ceremony on January 13, 2012.
Fire Station 30 – Mount Baker
Project Management: Department of Finance and Administrative Services
Designers: Schacht Aslani Architects; Nakano Associates, Landscape Architects
Completed in April of 2011, the Mount Baker Fire Station is located off of Rainier Ave S close to Franklin High School. Starting with a clear functional plan, the design team capitalized on an opportunity to connect with the nearby school and organized the plan to include a balcony where fire personnel could interact with students passing by – breaking down a common institutional separation and creating a stronger connection to the neighborhood. The project deserves recognition for its clear planning concept, innovative use of materials, and comprehensive sustainable design strategy – exceeding the City’s requirements by achieving LEED Gold Certification. We believe it will serve as a model for future Fire Station design through its thoughtful use of a modest budget to produce an elegant civic building that fits into a neighborhood context.
Summit Slope Park
Project Management: Seattle Parks and Recreation
Other Partners: Department of Neighborhoods, P-Patch Community Gardening Program; Unpaving Paradise
Summit Slope Park is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood at the intersection of E John Street and Summit Avenue E. The project reclaims the edge of the urban block creating an inviting infill park that responds to the complex scale, texture and flow of the surrounding neighborhood. A difficult location and small site is enhanced by a simple yet elegant design concept. Un-manicured community gardens, formal lawn spaces, gathering places, and seating elements are artfully integrated in the small park, to create a place that fosters a sense of community, while engaging the public in thoughtful and meaningful ways. The juxtaposition of formal lawns and un-manicured gardens brings out the character of the park and the individual expression of the users. Contemporary details and material use are well executed and enhance the integration into the neighborhood. The space provides a “backyard” feel while opening up to the larger community. Neighborhood pride in the park is evident in the use and stewardship of the community. The park is a clear example of how simple design and detailing can become a backdrop to the neighborhood, enhance our experience of the city and create a well used and loved space for the community.
Block 101 Alley Vacation Public Benefits
Project Management: Vulcan Inc.
Designers and Construction: Callison, Architects; Walker Macy, Landscape Architects; GLY Construction, General Contractor.
The alley vacation and associated redesign of Block 101 (Amazon.com) is a stellar example of how public and private sectors can collaborate to elevate the ground-level urban experience for the public amidst a mixed-used commercial project. The corporate sponsor clearly benefits from an increase in overall building flexibility but their ambitions need not run at odds with public benefit. Block 101 is both a well-integrated civic amenity and an urban campus courtyard. The scales vary from intimate to impressive as one walks from the improved street past the rehabilitated historic structure and into the well detailed plaza. Integration of diverse program, including retail, provides an open invitation for more than just the tenant company employees. And the overall circulation and quality of landscape, material and execution creates an active and attractive experience in lieu of what could have been a cold, introverted private office tower. Block 101 raises the bar and expectation of what private developers can do in the name of civic benefit when the public sector provides the opportunity. Alley vacation for private development is an exception, not a given, and the return must be palpable to diverse users as it is here with this project.
King Street Station Transit Hub Strategy
Project Management: Seattle Department of Transportation
This multi-modal hub strategy is centered around the King Street Station and includes nearly every mode of transportation from pedestrians to heavy rail, and all the transportation agencies operating in the city. Conceived and developed in-house, the strategy benefitted from input by many people whose insight, vision and knowledge of the area supported new ways of thinking. It provides strategic tools and ways to accomplish projects of varying sizes and types along several different timelines and in conjunction with other improvements, developments and projects as they occur. Along with transportation ideas, it addresses the social realm, art and culture, providing integrated urban strategies that look to strengthening the area as a place rather than simply a location to change modes of motion. Although this study has not yet been adopted by City Council, it is already informing activity in the area. The King Street Station has received a new plaza, bringing much needed attention to the Jackson Street level. The Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs Public Art Program is planning a temporary artwork for the plaza. The King Street Station Transit Hub Strategy, with its modest public investment, strong vision and inclusive approach, has the potential to be life changing for an area that has been “in-between” for so long.
In the Works Award
Swale on Yale
Project Management: Seattle Public Utilities
Agency Partners: Department of Planning and Development; Seattle Department of Transportation
Private Partner: Vulcan Inc.
Design and Construction: KPG, Inc.; KPFF Consulting Engineers; Berger Partnership; Runberg Architecture group PLLC
The Swale on Yale is Seattle’s newest and most urbane venture in creating multi-functional green infrastructure. It provides treatment for stormwater runoff flowing to Lake Union, improves streetscapes for all users, and creates green space within a dense and developing Seattle neighborhood. Space was even more limited here than at the city’s previous streetside swale projects. The project team responded with a different kind of solution – a cross-section with vertical walls, details with clean lines, and a simple yet strong planting design. The Commission applauds the partnership between SPU, SDOT, DPD, and Vulcan for project development, and all members of the project team for their collaborative and creative design process. They have gone beyond what would have already been an ambitious, state-of-the-art infrastructure project, compounding its potential to enrich the public realm. We believe that, when implemented, the Swale on Yale will become an exemplary case study of green infrastructure in a dense urban context.
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