Seattle Commissions High Line Co-Designer to Build New Waterfront


Speaking of the High Line and Michael Van Valkenburgh, although lots of cities have toyed with the idea of doing their own version of the incredibly popular New York, down and out-turned-destination experiment, like San Francisco with their Bay Bridge Park pie-in-the-sky ideas, Seattle wins the prize for not only trying to duplicate that model, but hiring one of the firms that put it into place. It’s been announced that James Corner Field Operations has beaten out Valkenburgh (along with two other firms) and won the commission as lead designer behind the city’s plan to develop and revitalize its central waterfront area (along with a team of other design firms, including the New York firm SHoP, which was brought into the Atlantic Yards fray last year). Although more landscape-based than building new buildings, for a city that’s sometimes been chided for being a little boring on the architectural front, despite its various efforts to the contrary, it’s a fantastic step in the right direction. Here’s a description of the project from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The state Transportation Department plans to replace the aging viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel beneath downtown. After the viaduct is torn down, civic leaders envision developing a world-class waterfront with open public spaces, a tree-lined boulevard, and maybe beaches from which to launch kayaks or fly kites. The canvas will be more than nine acres of new public space along the shoreline and new Alaskan Way boulevard from King Street to Elliott and Western Avenues. It has potential to connect a chain of Seattle icons: Pike Place Market; the Seattle Aquarium; Pioneer Square; the sports stadiums and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

You can download James Corner’s firm’s Powerpoint presentation about the project, here (warning: it’s around 100meg).