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July 14, 2014
Four Seattle projects won Design Excellence Awards from the Seattle Design Commission and three won honorable mentions.
Top awards went to the South Transfer Station in South Park, Lake to Bay urban trail plan, University of Washington West Campus dorms and Kirke Park in Ballard.
Honorable mentions went to Fire Station 6, Bell Street Park and the Madison Valley stormwater project.
Buildings, parks, open spaces, infrastructure and plans reviewed by the commission between 2011 and 2013 were eligible for the awards.
In a press release, the commission said the winners exemplify inspired design, environmental sensitivity, social inclusion, effective investment and impeccable execution.
It said the honorable mention winners provide important lessons for future public projects.
The South Transfer Station was completed in 2013 to replace an outdated solid waste facility. The commission praised the LEED-gold facility for its efficient entrances, public viewing spaces, green infrastructure and unique public art.
Lake to Bay began in 2000 as a partnership of the city and Seattle Center to create links between Elliott Bay and Lake Union. The original plan came to the design commission in 2001 and was highly conceptual. Since then, three groups — Lake2Bay Coalition, Seattle Center Foundation and Seattle Parks Foundation — have developed an ambitious plan for an urban trail system connecting the lake and bay with Seattle Center, the commission said.
The UW's new dorms along Northeast Campus Parkway required alley vacations. In 2009 and 2010, the design commission reviewed the impacts of the vacations on the street grid and public benefits to offset the impacts. Working with the commission and city policies, the UW created wider sidewalks, natural drainage features, transit amenities, and “signature public plazas and pedestrian linkages,” the commission said.
Kirke Park shows how the city can work with neighborhoods to create memorable places, the commission said. First reviewed by the commission in 2010, the 0.75-acre site was purchased with funds from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and developed using funds from the 2008 Parks and Greens Spaces Levy.
Kirke means “church” in Norwegian and pays tribute to the area's Norwegian heritage. The commission said the park combines play spaces for children with community gardens and areas for quiet contemplation.
Fire Station 6 replaced a historic fire station at 23rd Avenue South and East Yesler Way, and anchors the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Jackson Street. The commission praised the exposure of the station's inner workings and how the project translated the iconic artistic elements of the existing station into “a visible element of the new structure.”
Bell Street Park is a joint project of the Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Seattle Public Utilities. The four-block public space puts auto traffic and pedestrian zones on the same plane while highlighting the importance of natural drainage. The commission praised combining a street and a park, and said this model should be used elsewhere in the city.
Madison Valley's stormwater project is the second part of a multi-phase drainage improvement effort. The commission said it addresses major sewer backups and flooding that has affected many homes in Madison Valley. Phase II included a new stormwater pipeline between East John Street and Washington Park, a partially below-ground stormwater storage tank with an art wall, and an above-ground stormwater holding area in Washington Park.
The commission said Adam Kuby's artwork, “Hydro-Bio-Geo,” animates the facade of the 14-foot-tall holding tank with bird houses, downspouts and weep holes that send water into a rain garden below. It said the project shows the importance of well-designed infrastructure and creates community space.
The commission reviews capital projects in Seattle. In 2013, the value of those projects exceeded $6.3 billion.