The Seattle Design Commission has announced the winners of the Commission’s Design Excellence Awards. Four winning projects were selected from the many public buildings, parks, open spaces, infrastructure projects and vision plans that were reviewed by the Seattle Design Commission between 2011 and 2013. The winning projects were chosen because they promote the mission and exemplify the values of the Design Commission: inspired design, contextual integration, innovative environmental sensitivity, social inclusion, exemplary partnerships, effective investment, and impeccable execution. In addition to the four award winners, three honorable mentions were also presented. The three projects singled out for an honorable mention were executed at a high level, providing important lessons and tools for future public projects to consider. Winners were recognized at an awards ceremony on June 26, 2014.
“These projects have achieved an exemplary design standard while enhancing our city, neighborhoods and communities,” said Seattle Design Commission Chair Osama Quotah. “Through these awards, the Design Commission would like to acknowledge the work of City staff, design teams, community members and private developers who create projects that exemplify inspirational development in Seattle.”
The four Design Excellence Award winners are:
South Transfer Station
South Transfer Station is located in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Completed in 2013, it replaces an outdated facility that did not serve the community’s need for better designed and functioning solid waste facilities. The Design Commission looked at both the project design and a related street vacation. The facility features several unique elements, including achieving LEED Gold, enhanced and efficient entrances for the public and service providers, public viewing spaces, green infrastructure, and a unique public art program. The Design Commission commends Seattle Public Utilities for realizing its goal: make it work, make it speak, and make it flexible. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/util.
Lake to Bay
The Lake to Bay plan began in 2000 through a partnership between the City of Seattle and Seattle Center. Its goal: to develop a strong linkage between Elliott Bay and Lake Union. The original plan, which came to the Design Commission in 2001, was highly conceptual. Since then, the plan’s stewards—Lake2Bay Coalition, Seattle Center Foundation, and Seattle Parks Foundation—have developed an ambitious vision for an urban trail system connecting these two bodies of water with Seattle Center and its cultural resources. The Design Commission commends the plan’s stewards, their corporate and government partners, its incremental approach, and their commitment to this urban asset. For more information, visit http://seattleparksfoundation.org/, http://laketobayloop.com/, and http://seattlecenter.org/.
University of Washington West Campus Dormitories
University of Washington’s (UW) new dormitories along NE Campus Parkway required alley vacations to realize its architectural vision. In 2009 and 2010, the Design Commission reviewed both the impacts of the alley vacations on the street grid and the public benefits to offset the project’s impacts. With the Design Commission’s guidance and using the City’s policies governing street and alley vacations, UW and its development team created a series of memorable public spaces and places that include widened sidewalks, natural drainage features, enhanced transit amenities, and signature public plazas and pedestrian linkages. The Design Commission commends UW and its development partners for its vision. For more information, visit http://www.washington.edu and http://www.mahlum.com/work/built.asp.
Located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Kirke Park highlights how successful partnerships between the City and the neighborhood can create a memorable place. First reviewed by the Commission in 2010, the 0.75-acre site was purchased with 2000 Pro Parks Levy funds and developed with 2008 Parks and Greens Spaces Levy funds. The word Kirke—“church” in Norwegian—pays tribute to the site and the Norwegian heritage of the neighborhood. The park successfully balances play spaces for children, community gardens, and areas of quiet contemplation. The Design Commission commends Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Ballard citizens who championed the project, and the park’s designers for creating this neighborhood jewel. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks.
The three honorable mentions include:
Fire Station 6
As the replacement for the iconic and historic fire station at 23rd Ave S and E Yesler Way, Fire Station 6 had a hard act to follow. The new station anchors an important corner in the Central District—Martin Luther King Jr. Way S and S Jackson St—with an important civic structure. The Design Commission appreciates the difficulty of anchoring this corner with a signature piece of civic architecture. In particular, the Design Commission likes how the inner workings of the facility are exposed with high levels of transparency at such a prominent corner. The Design Commission also appreciates how the project translated the iconic artistic elements of the existing station into a visible element of the new structure. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/fire-facilities-and-emergency-response-levy.
Bell Street Park
As a joint project among the Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Seattle Public Utilities, Bell Street Park represents an ambitious and collaborative effort to integrate park spirit and street function. It’s a four-block public space that puts auto traffic and pedestrian zones on the same plane while highlighting the importance of urban parks and natural drainage features. The Design Commission applauds the innovation of combining a street and a park into a unified space and appreciates long-term commitments made by Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Department of Transportation to protect these investments. The Design Commission is eager to see this model further developed and implemented throughout the city. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/.
Madison Valley Stormwater – Phase 2
This second part of a multi-phase drainage improvement effort addresses major sewer backups and surface water flooding that has affected many homes over a number of years in Madison Valley. Phase II included a new stormwater pipeline between E John St and Washington Park, a partially below-ground stormwater storage tank with an art wall, and an above-ground stormwater holding area in Washington Park. Adam Kuby’s artwork, Hydro-Bio-Geo, animates the exposed façade of the 14-foot tall holding tank with cavity-nesting bird houses and downspouts and weep holes that send water down the wall to a rain garden below. What would have been a simple stone wall is now a site for natural processes to emerge and become visible. The Design Commission appreciates how the project elevates—literally and figuratively—the importance of well-designed infrastructure, creates usable community space, and incorporates art into all aspects of its design. For more information, visit http://www.seattle.gov/util/.
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. The value of projects reviewed in 2013 exceeds $6.3 billion. For more information, visit our website at http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/planning/design_commission/overview/.