KEXP Landmarks Board Report

Interior of KEXP's new space
Interior of KEXP’s new space

Your Landmarks Committee tries to attend every meeting of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) and its Architectural Review Committee (ARC) when Queen Anne buildings and sites are on the agenda. We offer public input at those meetings in the hope of guiding the preservation of our neighborhood’s historic character and its designated landmarks.

Agenda items use the historic name of the sites. In these two examples,they refer to the Northwest Rooms at Seattle Center, now known as KEXP.  Leanne Olson represented us at the ARC meeting of July 15. Her report follows:

I attended the LPB Architectural Review Committee meeting last Friday for the following agenda items

071516.14 Northwest Rooms & International Fountain Pavilion, 305 Harrison St

Proposed exterior building alterations

The Chicago bascule bridge, whose opening on June 15, 1917 we’ll celebrate next year, replaced a wooden trestle on which street cars ran from downtown north on pilings and tracks along the shore of Lake Union where Westlake has now been filled in.

Retroactive proposal for mural installation at north elevation

The first item had been previously reviewed at the time of the original Certificate of Approval for the KEXP project.  It’s for expansion into the southern part of the building.  Originally KEXP intended to sublet that portion, but they didn’t have enough budget to complete it.  Now, thanks to their wildly successful capital campaign (and Paul Allen), they are going ahead with the expansion, but will occupy it themselves.  The exterior alterations are for windows/doorways on the courtyard side of the building which will match those already installed.

On the second item, The only change the board requested was to cut down the reveals at each end of the structure to make it apparent that the mural is not part of the building.  The mural will stay in place until Fall 2017, when it will be re-evaluated and may be replaced with something else.  I provided the only public testimony and reminded everyone that the Paul Thiry panels are art in and of themselves and that any future art installations should celebrate his contribution.  I also mentioned the Native American influence on Thiry’s work that his biographer and our board member, Marga Rose Hancock, spoke about at our last board meeting.

Seattle Center’s Director of Project Development Jill Crary spoke to me prior to the meeting and was very apologetic about the retroactive request.

We note that owners must ask the Landmarks Preservation Board to review proposed changes to designated city landmarks. If that doesn’t happen the board can approve a change after the fact as in the case of KEXP’s misguided mural or it can force removal and reconstruction of historic fabric.

Look for more reports on our website about the LPB when Queen Anne is on the agenda.