The Nordic Museum

Founded in 1980, the Nordic Heritage Museum occupied the former Daniel Webster Elementary School in a residential area of north Ballard before moving to its new home closer to downtown Ballard on May 5, 2018. The architectural firm of Mithun describes the central idea of their design thusly: “The new museum is organized around a linear ‘fjord’ that weaves together stories of homeland and the Nordic American experience. Bridges crossing the fjord intensify the experience of migration, connecting Nordic and Nordic American exhibits. A vertically-striated zinc skin wraps the building exterior; inside, fjord walls are composed of faceted white planes evoking its glacial origins.”

Below is an interior view of Fjord Hall, the central spine, along with a brief video clip of the process.

 

Fremont Pathway

 

What in plan appears to be a logical mid-block pathway is often not so evident when seen at street level, especially when the pathway involves changes in direction and elevation amid a lot of vegetation. Here is a view of a pedestrian pathway that connects North 34th and North 35th Streets, drawn while sitting at The Masonry, sipping a beer, and looking north up toward A.B. Ernst Park.

The second view (and video) is from where an addition to A.B. Ernst Park is to be developed, looking down toward 34th Street, from where the first view was drawn.

A Charcoal Study

When I entered the architecture program at the University of Notre Dame in the fall of 1961, my first freehand drawing course began with charcoal studies of plaster casts. Being young and naive, I didn’t fully appreciate the pedagogy behind these tasks, but in hindsight, I can see now that these studies helped promote looking closely at geometric forms, noticing how light illuminated and reflected off of their surfaces, and appreciating the resulting subtle gradations of value. And then the challenge was trying to capture these visual qualities with a charcoal stick, a paper stump for smoothing and blending, and a kneaded eraser for lightening and creating highlights.

Coliseum Theater

The Coliseum was the first theater in Seattle built specifically to show motion pictures. Designed by B. Marcus Priteca, it opened on January 8, 1916, at the start of the silent-film era, with a showing of The Cheat, starring Fannie Ward and Sessue Hayakawa. An advertisement at the time called the theater “the world’s largest and finest photoplay palace.” It is just one of a series of vaudeville and motion picture theaters Priteca designed for the Alexander Pantages chain.

The Colesium continued operating as a movie theater until 1990. It sat idle until 1995, when Banana Republic transformed it into a clothing store. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a City of Seattle Landmark.

Below is a short video clip of my drawing the view using the Procreate app on my iPad.

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church

St. Demetrios is part of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. The Greek Community Association established this parish in the Cascade neighborhood in the early 20th century and named it after an icon of Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki. Several decades later, under the stewardship of Father Neketas Palassis, the parish developed plans for a new complex, which culminated in the construction of the current church in the Montlake neighborhood. It was dedicated on March 31, 1963.

This thin-shell concrete structure was designed by Paul Thiry, a pioneer of modernism in the Pacific Northwest who was a supervising architect for the 1962 Century 21 Exposition in Seattle. At the time of St. Demetrios’ completion, the magazine Architecture West praised how Thiry “adapt(ed) materials and techniques of the 20th Century to a church that follows early Greek Orthodox architectural forms, with interior spaces dictated by centuries old liturgical forms.”

Safeco Field

 

With opening day for the 2018 MLB season approaching, I thought it might be appropriate to post these sketches of Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. The stadium, designed by NBBJ and 360 Architecture along with the structural engineering firm of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, features a retractable roof that serves as an umbrella during inclement weather.

Although King County voters had initially turned down a proposal to fund a new baseball stadium to replace the aging Kingdome, the Mariners’ first appearance in the MLB postseason in 1995 and their victory in the American League Division Series reignited a public drive to keep the team in town. As a result, the Washington State Legislature approved an alternate means of funding comprising a mix of food and beverage taxes in King County restaurants and bars, car rental surcharges, a ballpark admissions tax, and sales of a special stadium license plate.

The stadium is often referred to as “The House that Griffey Built” because many believe major league baseball would not exist in Seattle without Ken Griffey, Jr.’s outstanding career with the Mariners. Griffey helped break ground for the new stadium in 1997 and a capacity crowd of 47,000 attended the Inaugural Game against the San Diego Padres on July 15, 1999.

Georgetown Steam Plant

Designed by Frank Gilbreth and built in 1906 for the Seattle Electric Company, the Georgetown Steam Plant is an early example of a reinforced concrete structure. It houses two vertical Curtis steam turbines manufactured by General Electric, which initially produced 11,000 kilowatts of power. Later, in 1919, a horizontal Curtis turbine was added, almost doubling the output of the plant. In addition to providing direct current for Seattle’s streetcar system and the interurban railway between Seattle and Tacoma, the plant also generated alternating current for Georgetown, which was at the time an independent city. In 1951, Seattle’s Department of Lighting—today’s Seattle City Light—purchased the facility and continued to operate the plant on a limited basis until 1972.

The steam plant was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1984. It is also listed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places, is a City of Seattle Landmark, and is recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

Today, the steam plant is still owned by Seattle City Light and is maintained by City Light staff and a group of volunteers as the Georgetown PowerPlant Museum. It contains operable examples of early vertical steam generating turbines, as well as reciprocating steam engines and a collection of vintage machining tools.

Middle Fork

Hanging in the lobby of the Seattle Art Museum is this 105-foot long tree sculpture by John Grade. Grade first made a plaster cast of a living 140-year old western hemlock growing along the Middle Fork (hence the name) of the Snoqualmie River east of Seatle. Then he along with hundreds of volunteers used the plaster mold to recreate the form of the tree from thousands of pieces of reclaimed old-growth cedar.

Times Square Building

This iconic triangular-shaped building, situated between 4th and 5th Avenues where Olive Way splits off of Stewart Street, was designed by Bebb & Gould and completed in 1915 for the editorial offices of the Seattle Times newspaper, which occupied its seven stories until 1930. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and designated as a city landmark in September 1984.

Below are views of buildings that also occupy acutely angled sites in various locations and at different scales.

Rainier Tower

On the way home last week after viewing the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, I noticed that the low-rise portion of Rainier Square had been demolished, exposing the iconic Rainier Tower to view on all sides. I immediately made a mental note to draw that scene. A few days later, a post by Andika Murandi on the Seattle Urban Sketchers blog reminded me to head downtown to draw Rainier Tower amid the demolition work that is making way for a new 58-story mixed-use highrise. It will be interesting to see how the old and new towers coexist on the same block.

Designed by Minoru Yamasaki in association with NBBJ and the structural engineering firm of Magnusson Klemencic, Rainier Tower is unique for its 11-story high pedestal base that tapers downward, like an inverted pyramid with curving sides. When I first saw Rainier Tower after moving to Seattle in 1980, I remember wondering how the structure could resist toppling over during an earthquake.

One sidenote: I drew this scene with a rollerball pen, which made me miss how sensitive the nib of a fountain pen is to the slightest applications of pressure.