Wednesday, October 31, 2012

619 Western Rehab 2012

Time Marches On

As many of you are aware, the one year anniversary of the closure of the 619 Western building recently passed. As the decision that was made moves forward, it is important to take a step back and look at where we are today and what is to come.

The Building Today

The Alliance for Pioneer Square served as a consulting party during the Section 106 process and we recently had the opportunity to tour the building and see the progress that has been made during the stabilization process. The change is astounding… completely gutted and in the midst of major renovation, the building is (literally) a shell of its former self.

Our tour started on the 6th Floor (with a quick view of the roof). The amount of work being done is pretty impressive. Earthquake retrofitting, altering the shear wall in the center of the building, fixing eight-plus inch cracks among the walls and moving the stairwells and elevators to the outer edges of the building are all being done simultaneously.

As we moved from the 5th to the 3rd floor it was more of the same. Cracks were a little smaller and walls were a little straighter as we continued our way down. On the second floor, the ceilings were recently sandblasted using walnut-shells as an abrasive. This section gave us a peek at how impressive the finished product will be, as the finished ceilings looked amazing!

The first floor/basement area was where the majority of the work was taking place. The crew is installing over 253 piles into the ground to stabilize the building. The process is not simple – the tunnel is relatively shallow in this area and ideal pile depths are not possible. GLY Construction is completing the project and the work they’ve completed to date is really impressive.

619 Western Ave

Built in 1910 as a warehouse, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Without that designation and the requirement of the state to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the building would have been demolished. Instead, the Washington State Department of Transportation is working to stabilize the building. They will retain occupancy until the tunnel boring machine has passed under the building, at which time it will be returned to the building owners.

Where did the artists go?

Prior to the eviction, over 100 artist studios were located in 619 Western. All occupants were required to leave by October 1, 2011. Many were able to find existing studios, such as those in the Tashiro Kaplan Artists’ lofts or Inscape. Others created new studios, such as 57 Biscayne in Pioneer Square. Unfortunately, many dispersed throughout Seattle and beyond. The most comprehensive list I was able to locate is here, so hopefully you have some luck tracking down your favorite artist.

What’s next?

We look forward to the next chapter of the 619 Western. Although it will not be what it once was, the dedication to rehabilitate the structure and its ideal location along the new waterfront promise that it will continue to be an important part of Pioneer Square.

More background info:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 2012 Cheat Sheet

Surprise! It's on Pinterest now! But never fear - you DO NOT have to sign up for Pinterest to view the pinboard. We're trying this out because the ghetto fabulous cheat sheets have not only been ghetto, they have also been time consuming. And I am but one First Thursday monkey.

A shocked spider monkey

Hate or love the new Pinterest First Thursday cheat sheet? Let us know on Twitter @1Tseattle or on

See you at the First Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square! October 4th!

An Arts Crush to Remember

October, generally, is a month associated with autumn, great pumpkins, and dancing skeletons. But in recent years October has steadily become another type of cultural fixture on the Seattle calendar: a solid month of free arts adventures thanks to a local program called Arts Crush.

Above you'll find Sam Read, the founder of Arts Crush, talking about his first arts crush. An arts crush, of course, is some sort of art-related phenomenon that you've fallen in love with, and, if it were tangible, you would seriously squeeze it into a million exploding hearts. But now we've come to a somewhat philosophical question: what is Arts Crush, really?

In its original incarnation (circa 2005), Arts Crush was a week long theater festival called Live Theatre Week by Theatre Puget Sound. The whole week featured dozens of free performances by over 50 participating theaters, inviting people who didn't know a thing about the stage to see a play risk-free. It became so popular that a mob of arts geeks demanded a broader expansion of the festival, and since 2010 Live Theatre Week was renamed Arts Crush, lengthened to a whole month, and became all-arts inclusive. The concept then was basically the same as it is now - to take art disciplines normally regarded as unapproachable, and open them up to the general public.

Sam Read (the Chipmunks guy) explains it as "breaking the arts out of its box". A big concern with the arts is that it's seen as something only fancy-pants people named Niles and Frasier Crane are into. Not many young'uns have love for the opera these days. And that's what Arts Crush is addressing - how to break the arts out of those sterile white walls and let the modern day person experience it in new ways.

All of the Featured Events on the Arts Crush calendar are free or pay what you can. Otherwise known as free. The important thing here is that you, sir or madam, get out there and experience something new in the arts world. As a person savvy with the First Thursday art walk, we figure you're already planning out your month of Arts Crush events. Share your adventures with us and we'll share with you! Check back for updates on shows we've been going to, and see you at the art walk!