I sent the following email to Charles Mudede at The Stranger in reponse to a recent article of his about the new Four Seasons in downtown Seattle. He has posted a response on SLOG addressing my concerns.
In reading your "Leaves of Glass" article on the new Four Seasons, I found myself somewhat perplexed. I read Alexandros Washburn’s quote about contemporary virtue “being a concern for nature” as referring not only to the aesthetic aspects of a building, which you celebrated, but also to the functional aspects of the building, which you omitted. I looked around online and found no mention of any "sustainable" features of the building and, assuming this is indeed the case, I would have to conclude that the building's cladding merely projects the image of being concerned with nature, when in reality it is only serves as barrier between the affluent dwellers and the people on the street. Even though the courthouse was built before LEED Silver was required of all federal government buildings, I understand that it incorporates technology to reduce its impact on nature.
I understand you wrote this article as a visual art piece and agree with you that the colors and textures of the skin bring to mind the natural beauty of our region (as does Two Union, magnificently), but I see no virtue in a janus-like facade that advertises one thing while hiding another. Not to mention the fact that the entire building feels like it is snubbing the city and looking out to sea, but that's a completly different discussion.
Admittedly, I could be wrong; the Four Seasons could be a LEED platinum haven for the millionaires but I'd think they be publicizing that information, since that is one of our virtues in this corner of the world.
Thanks for reading and writing.