Center of the Universe

I’m updating an entry I posted a couple of years ago regarding what Fremont likes to call itself: “The Center of the Universe.” Here are two views of the literal center of the Center, the intersection where Fremont Avenue North, North 35th Street, and Fremont Place North all meet. The first is looking northwest toward Fremont Place North and Fremont Avenue North.

This second drawing is from a cold day in January 2014, looking northeast at the same intersection. On the traffic island, you can see a post with directional markers pointing to places both near and fa

Something’s Cooking…

Down the block from us, we first heard the sounds of people scrubbing and cleaning, then noticed the subtle transformation that the installation of festive flags and canvas canopies can make to an outdoor space. And finally, the sign itself went up announcing the opening of Renee and Nicholas Price’s Fire and Earth Kitchen. These two chefs are offering group and private cooking classes as well as preparing meals for families and small groups to “share the secrets of effortless meal preparation, and expertly show how down to earth and delicious vegan meals can be.” For more information, see <>.

Georgetown Scenes

These three scenes were done this past Sunday when the Seattle Urban Sketchers met in Georgetown for the neighborhood’s annual garden walk. The first is of the historic Queen Anne style residence at 6219 Carlton Avenue South, built in 1893 for Dora Horton-Carle, daughter of Georgetown founder Julius Horton. It’s an up-close-and-personal view rather than the contextual views I usually prefer.

The second scene is of Oxbow park, a few blocks south. The site is dominated by Hat n’ Boots, designed by Seattle artist Lewis Nasmyth for a western-themed gas station in 1953. The neighborhood rescued the sculptures sometime in the 1980s, after the I-5 interstate had slowly siphoned traffic away from the business over two decades.

And finally, since there were 15 minutes left in the session, I decided to do another up-close-and-personal view of this 1941 Mack truck, which was converted into an art truck and parked in a corner of Oxbow Park.

Notational Drawings

Perusing my sketchbooks, one might discover many small notational drawings that I have used to understand and represent certain aspects of the places visited. When drawing from observation, we can capture not only what the eye perceives but also what the mind conceives. We can use the drawing process to think about, visualize, and explore in imagined and imaginary ways the conceptual basis for the environments we see and experience. These notational drawings may be simple plan or section diagrams or more complex three-dimensional studies but in all cases, they attempt to encapsulate the essence of a place or structure.

Lake Union

Lake Union was given its name by Thomas Mercer, who believed that the lake and canals —“a union of waters”— would someday link Lake Washington to Puget Sound. An array of pleasure craft ply its waters, from paddle boards, kayaks, and rowing shells to day sailers and cabin cruisers. Seaplanes take off from the south end of the lake. Floating house boats line its eastern and western shores. Yet these two views remind us that the body of water just north of downtown Seattle remains a working lake with dry docks and other boat repair facilities, particularly along the north shore.

Fishermen’s Terminal Revisited

Photo courtesy of Kate Buike

Photo courtesy of Kate Buike

To follow up on my posting of a couple weeks earlier, the Seattle Urban Sketchers met at Fishermen’s Terminal yesterday morning to commemorate its first gathering there seven years ago. Close to 40 sketchers came to enjoy the sunny but breezy weather and share the USk experience at a quintessential Seattle setting.


As with writing, drawing can speak in many voices. Some drawings assertively yell for attention; others speak more quietly and persuasively. Still others merely whisper. Looking through my sketchbooks, I came upon a number of quiet sketches that attempt to capture the feel of a place with relatively little noise.

Hotel Hotel Hostel

The Hotel Hotel Hostel is an example of a healthy renewal and reuse of an existing piece of urban fabric in the center of a vibrant neighborhood, within easy walking distance to shops, restaurants, and buses. Established in 2011, the hostel offers reasonably priced accommodations in Fremont, ranging from private rooms with private baths to private rooms and dorm rooms with shared baths. In addition, there’s a fully equipped kitchen and TV room to share and a pizza bar on the street level.

Check out their website at <> for more info.

Fishermen’s Terminal

It was 7 years ago—in July 2009—that Gabi Campanario organized the very first meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers group at Fishermen’s Terminal, located off of Salmon Bay in north Seattle. Seattle might have been one of the first chapters of the Urban Sketchers movement that Gabi started in late 2008, but new chapters in other cities and regions are being created on a regular basis as the campaign for drawing on location is alive, well, and thriving.

Above is the drawing of Fishermen’s Terminal that I did this morning while below is a similar view that I did back in July 2009.

Playing Favorites

I am sometimes asked what my favorite work of architecture is. Rather than name a historic or popular icon, I usually respond by saying that I like buildings that help build neighborhoods and communities. But if pressed to name one, I can only narrow the list down to two: the Pantheon in Rome and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Both are ideal in conception and outlook but also enduringly attractive in the way they have aged and adapted to different uses over the centuries. It is only over time that any design can be truly evaluated for its worthiness.

PantheonInt00 PantheonInt13