The Greenest Commercial Building on Earth

The Bullitt Center, the world’s only fully self-sustained office building.  Photo: Joe Mabel

To be called the world’s greenest office building is no easy feat, but the 6-story Bullitt Center at 1501 East Madison Street between Capitol Hill and the Central District has attained that status. Completed in 2013, it has won numerous environmental awards and received much media coverage since then, due to being completely self-sustaining, like a forest, thus not contributing to global warming. It’s considered a “Living Building”, mimicking how nature reuses, stores, and filters materials in a productive way. The Bullitt Center was built to last 250 years, and is so effective at generating energy that it has an excess during the summer months.

Created as part of the Living Building Challenge, this building produces its own energy through solar panels on the roof, processing its own rainwater for reuse, composting toilets, a bike garage + showers, rare triple-pane windows, completely non-toxic and locally-sourced building materials, automatic blinds adjustment according to sun position, heat pumps processing at 400 feet below the soil, and lots of natural light and wood throughout. The building is purposely situated near various public transit and has the best walking score possible: 100 out of 100. Tenants are given an energy allotment according to how much space (ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 square feet) they occupy in the building. If they stay within those parameters, they receive a financial incentive at the end of the year.

Denis Hayes, who has an incredible environmental resume (including being the organizer for the very first Earth Day in the 1970s, then bringing it to the global stage) is now president of the Bullitt Foundation, which owns the building. In critical upcoming years, as urban populations continue to grow, Hayes hopes that the Bullitt Center will serve as an example of what’s possible, and will promote future construction of other living, sustainable buildings.

Photo: Joe Mabel

Grand Re-Opening of Washington Hall

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To celebrate the completion of its ambitious five-year renovation, Washington Hall is holding a grand re-opening on Wednesday, June 1st from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Hosted by Historic Seattle, 206 Zulu, Hidmo, and Voices Rising, the Voices Rising, the event will feature music and lite refreshments provided by Madres Kitchen and Panera.

Washington Hall was commissioned by the Danish Brotherhood and opened its doors in 1908.  Designed by Victor Voorhees, Washington Hall was built to provide boarding facilities for newly arrived Danish immigrants and also as a community center, fraternal lodge, and dance hall. Most notably, however, Washington Hall has served as a popular performing arts venue, hosting musicians and speakers such as Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Joe Louis.

Despite being in constant use since its construction, Washington Hall faced demolition due to its deteriorating condition.  In 2009, Historic Seattle, with the aid of 4Culture, purchased the building with the intention to restore it.  The restoration and stabilization work to Washington Hall included seismic upgrades, a new roof, and securing the south wall.  An elevator was added, making the building fully ADA accessible. Refinished floors, stage enhancements, new lighting, and a complete re-working of the back space of the building, all helped to restore this Historic Landmark building in a way that honors its storied past.

 

For more information about his event, visit Washington Hall’s Facebook page.

Vulcan is Preparing for 23rd and Jackosn’s First Design Review Session

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a preliminary study for Vulcan’s redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson.

Vulcan has released preliminary redevelopment plans for the Central District shopping center at 23rd and Jackson it purchased for $30.9 million in February. While some community members see Vulcan’s entry into the Central District as yet another sign of increasing gentrification, the real estate giant is working affordable housing into the development.

Vulcan plans to replace the shopping center and its expansive parking lot with two mid-rise buildings which would hold 566 apartments. The two buildings will be built over three to four levels of underground parking, allowing the development to center around a public plaza and retail shops. Vulcan is proposing to utilize Seattle’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE), an affordable housing incentive program which alleviates certain property taxes from participating developers, to make twenty percent of the units at 23rd and Jackson affordable. This would mean that the redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson would produce 113 affordable units including 49 units affordable to households earning 65% of Area Median Income ($41,145 for a single person, $58,695 for a family of 4).

While Vulcan has stated that the design of 23rd and Jackson was derived from recommendations it received from Central Area stakeholders, some community members do not see the affordable units as enough to counteract the increased gentrification the neighborhood has faced recently. Evelyn Thomas Alan, the founder of the Black Community Impact Alliance, argues that while MFTE does provide affordable housing for middle-class workers, the income range does not go low enough to provide affordable housing for significant numbers of African Americans.

Despite some push back from community members, the Vulcan development team is getting ready for the project’s first design review session, scheduled for May 10th.

Three New “Parklets” Opening This Summer In Capitol Hill Area

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Around the Northwest we have to take full advantage of our short window of summer days warm enough to spend time outside, and this year Seattle residents will have 10 new “parklets” – spots in front of businesses where parking spaces are converted into mini park areas – to relax in the sunshine. Three of these spaces will be in the Capitol Hill/Central Area vicinity, including outside Lost Lake Lounge and the Comet Tavern at 10th Avenue and E Pike St.; outside Cortona Cafe at 25th and Union; and up the hill in Madrona outside the Bottlehouse and the Hi Spot Cafe on 34th Avenue.

These 10 new mini parks, along with three already installed in 2013 in Belltown, the International District and Capitol hill, are part of a pilot program started by the Seattle Department of Transportation in response to increasing interest from Seattle businesses. While permits for the mini parks are issued by the SDOT, this project is fueled by the public, and all funding is provided by the business or resident who sponsors the parklet. The SDOT will evaluate at the end of the summer and decide whether to make these 24-hour public spaces permanent parts of Seattle’s streetscape.

See the full list of the parklets debuting this summer to see if there will be one in your neighborhood, and read more about the pilot program on SDOT’s website.