Monday, June 2, 2008

An email to The Stranger

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.


1 comment:

Spencer Noland said...


Thanks for having a place to comment. Hugeasscity lacks this ammenity so I will include a few comments about their writing too.

Clearly Charles' article is a puff peice as with most architecture articles writen by The Stranger staff. At the least he is probably more poetic than the architects who designed it. I'd hire him to do publicity for the building.

I would not say this building is a bad building. It certainly caters to less of Seattle's (and the world's)population but that's what NBBJ's buildings are all about. We yet have record, that I know about, of them designing a shelter or low-income housing. Non-the-less they do design decent buildings and they are arguably our Starchict, if we were to have one.

I feel you and Hugeasscity are being too critical of Charles and this building without any of the three saying they have been inside the building nor having seen the building completed. HAC's comment about the 1st ave. side being half concrete and not engaging pedestrians is an exaggeration at best. Their own photo exposes this showing glass on at least 3/4 of the building at the groung level. Unless the three of you have information other than what is given it would be great to know it.

I do not work for NBBJ, but have several friends who do. The work of theirs I've seen is magnificent and thoughtful. It wouldn't surprise me if they have put more thought into this building than we can see from the street and over the construction fencing.

All-in-all thank you for being a voice on Seattle Architecture. Since we have lost Sherry Olsen our voice for good and bad in architecture has been quelled.

Good luck and I look forward to reading more!