Weyerhaeuser: Woodsy Urban

Weyerhaeuser’s Lobby Area.  Photo: Anthony Bolante/Puget Sound Business Journal

Weyerhaeuser’s new headquarters has moved “out of the woods” and into the urban core, to paraphrase The New York Times. A number of large, local companies decided recently to move their suburban headquarters to the Seattle core, including Weyerhaeuser, in an attempt to attract new talent who might prefer the perks of a downtown lifestyle. Another reason Weyerhaeuser decided to move is their previous location, which they occupied for 45 years, was deemed too big. Last autumn, they moved most of their office (between 700-800 employees) from a sprawling 430-acre campus in Federal Way to a single, new building in downtown Seattle. Their 166,000 square foot building is adjacent to Occidental Park, a community in transition, in the Pioneer Square area which is 3 blocks from a transit hub.

Weyerhaeuser Building in Pioneer Square.  Photo: Stuart Isett/The New York Times

Exterior of Weyerhaeuser Building.  Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

The exterior of the Weyerhaeuser building (220 Occidental Avenue South) is understated with quality details, and makes an effort to blend with the historic brick buildings that surround it.  An overhang and mason end walls align with the cornices of the historic buildings around the square, for an even line or flow from building-to-building. Also in keeping with its historic environment and Weyerhaeuser’s 116+ years in business, the bricks on the new building were placed by-hand, highly unusual these days, instead of a prefabricated sheet of bricks. The structure was developed by Urban Visions, who chose to work with architecture firm Mithun.

Weyerhaeuser lunch room with Elizabeth MacPherson, Mithun principal. Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

Photo: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times

Weyerhaeuser produces wood products + land-related endeavors, and these materials are highlighted in their interior space, with the occasional burst of color (such as furniture). In the lobby, an employee’s photo of trees in a woods has been converted into a large digital wall mural. The ceilings, walls, tables, desks and other elements are often made from their own sustainable timber or made of natural materials. There’s quite a few windows for natural light. A rooftop garden. Studio SC’s large black and white wayfinding illustration of tree branches begins from an upper landing in the stairwell and works down floor-by-floor, ending with tree roots on a lower level. Even though this is a new building, a sense of history has been infused.

With the new building bordering the east side, Occidental Park is now enclosed on four sides and resembles a small, urban European plaza or Early American town square, especially during the summer. There’s seating available at the park, surrounded by hanging flowering baskets, older trees, and totem poles. Crime has dropped at the park by 2/3rds as of late July 2016, due to a very successful partnership between the Downtown Seattle Association and Seattle Parks & Recreation. As a result, a larger variety of people frequent the park because family-friendly events/activities, food trucks, games, and live music are now more commonplace. The re-invigoration of several downtown parks usually means an eventual rise in real estate values and a renewal of businesses in the vicinity. Weyerhaeuser, steeped in a long history with sustainable endeavors, is no stranger to renewal.

Occidental Park outside Weyerhaeuser headquarters.  Photo: Stuart Isett/The New York Times

Pioneer Square “Ruin” to Become Seattle’s Newest Boutique Hotel

metropole

Commonly dated to 1892, the Metropole Building in Pioneer Square is about to be transformed in the city’s newest boutique hotel.  The building’s finely proportioned façade, articulated in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, has been boarded up since a fire extensively damaged its interior in 2007.  While some restoration work was carried out inside the building following the fire, today, the Metropole resembles a ruin.

In 2015 Seneca ventures purchased the Metropole building for $4 million, planning to turn the dilapidated historical building into a boutique hotel with dining and retail space on its first floor. BuildingWork, a Seattle-based firm, has been hired to undertake the transformation. Matt Aalfs, the owner and principal of BuidlingWork, told the Daily Journal of Commerce that the hotel will have 36 guest rooms, about half of which will be “micro private rooms” geared towards single travelers and those on a budget. The micro rooms will be 120 square feet, but will have private, ensuite bathrooms.  Standard rooms at the hotel will be 220 square feet.

If the permitting process runs smoothly, construction could begin on the Metropole as early as September.  Before any work can begin though, the development team is seeking approval from the National Park Service in order to procure federal historic preservation tax credits, which will provie vital in the financing of the project.

Two Men Shot in Pioneer Square

Police are investigating a shooting which happened around 2:00am this morning near Occidental Ave. S. and S. Washington St. Police responded to a call of shots being fired and found the two men who had been shot while sitting in a car. The men were treated for their injuries and transported to Harborview Medical Center. The suspected shooter could not be located. Anyone with any information regarding the incident should contact the Seattle Police Department.

Man Wearing “Michael Myers” Mask Robs Business in Pioneer Square

mask

A man wearing a Michael Myers mask robbed a business located in the Pioneer Building at 608 1st Avenue in Pioneer Square around 10:30pm Thursday night. The victim was going back inside the building after a smoke break when an unseen suspect pressed an unknown object against his back and forced him to take the suspect to the business office where the suspect forced him to open the office safe and put the money in a bag. While the victim was filling the bag the suspect ripped the office phone cords from the sockets. The suspect then attempted to zip-tie the victim’s hands behind his back but for some reason did not complete the task. The suspect told the victim to stay in the office for 20 minutes while he fled in an unknown direction, possibly in an unknown car. The victim called 9-1-1. The suspect was described as a male wearing a “Michael Myers” Halloween mask, possibly a t-shirt and blue jeans. The victim sustained no injuries other than bruises on his hands and arms from being pushed around.

If you have any information regarding the incident please contact the Seattle Police Department.

Possibility of Streetcars returning to Seattle

It has been over 70 years since Seattle has had streetcars. Once people began moving out of the city and into suburbs and cars became more popular and convenient, there wasn’t as much of a need for them. The railTrolleys were removed and paved streets took their place. But now, as more and more people begin moving back into the city the idea of bringing back functioning streetcars has emerged.

One idea is to have the streetcar run down 4th and 5th which would serve mostly commuters and may not have as much use on the weekends as the more favored idea of having the streetcar run down 1st Avenue would. Although having it run on 4th and 5th would be almost $50 million cheaper, being on 1st, the streetcar would run past bars, new restaurants, shops and places that are more popular to tourists all days of the week including weekends. Tom Graff of Ewing and Clark, Inc. agrees that running down 1st is the better option. It would help boost business and attract more to the area.

Some business owners are concerned that if the project does move forward, construction may cause problems by limiting parking spaces and obstructing accessibility to their businesses. They realize that they will benefit from it being on 1st and accept the idea if construction can be controlled. The City of Seattle held an open house Wednesday evening for those who wanted to learn more and discuss the topic as well as to kick off the                                         Center City Connector Project which will explore transit options for downtown.