Charette to Draw Public Input for Big Lid

 Marchers against I-5 construction, downtown Seattle, June 1, 1961 Museum of History & Industry


Marchers against I-5 construction, downtown Seattle, June 1, 1961
Museum of History & Industry

In 1967, the last phase of Interstate 5 opened. The freeway, which was designed to link Vancouver, Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, and Bellingham, demolished anything that fell within its path and nowhere was this more destructive than in Seattle. Rather than cut through downtown, or climb through the hills and ridges directly surrounding the city, planners selected a course of least resistance for 1-5 in Seattle. In 1957, more than seven blocks of residences and retail businesses on the east side of Eastlake were razed to make way for the Interstate. The freeway eliminated the bottom portion of the Republican Street Hillclimb, a stairway leading from Cascade to Capitol Hill built in 1910. South of the Ship Canal Bridge Interstate 5 separates the Eastlake and Cascade neighborhoods from the Capitol Hill neighborhood and separates Downtown Seattle from the Capitol Hill and First Hill neighborhoods. Its construction necessitated the demolition of significantly developed areas and cut off walking commutes to downtown for many First Hill and Capitol Hill residents.
Since its completion, there has been significant interest in placing a lid over the portion of I-5 that cuts through Seattle. An early attempt at this can be seen in Lawrence Halprin‘s Freeway Park, which opened in 1976. This Saturday, May 7th, a design charrette (a collaborative session where designers and stakeholders work to draft proposals to solve a design problem) is being held by the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council to gather ideas that could materialize into an actual lid.
The charrette will take place at 12th Ave Arts this Saturday, May 7th, from 8 AM to 1 PM (coffee and High 5 Pie provided). Attendees will be armed with markers and tracing paper over a blown up image of the I-5 corridor to draw up their best ideas for a lid. Organizers have also compiled packets of materials reviewing existing lids in Seattle and around the U.S.
Pine Street Group developers will next go before the Seattle Design Commission on June 7th, where public benefits for the WSCC addition will be discussed. Commissioners are not expected to take any action. However, the commission will consider materials submitted by the community ahead of the meeting, creating an ideal opportunity to present the results of Saturday’s charrette.