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.
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: