Subscribe / Renew
|► Subscribe to our Free Weekly Newsletter|
|print email to a friend reprints add to mydjc|
August 29, 2019
Skanska's latest office development, 2+U, is two connected towers of 19 and 38 stories at the corner of Second Avenue and University Street in downtown Seattle. The full-block site has a first-of-its-kind, three-level, pedestrian-focused urban village under the lifted office towers.
The village has 24,000 square feet of open-air retail space that fuses local retail, art, culture and nature.
Murphy McCullough, executive vice president and regional manager of commercial development at Skanska, answered a few questions about the project, which will open soon.
Q: You've overseen the development of Stone34, 400 Fairview and now 2+U. How you approach design projects?
A: Growing up in the Puget Sound region, I feel a responsibility to design and develop buildings that enhance the human experience and make our city better. The opportunity to do both is manifested on the ground floor of our developments and is a confluence of the greater city, our tenants, neighbors and visitors.
Our last three Seattle projects, Stone34 (in Fremont), 400 Fairview (South Lake Union) and now 2+U (downtown) all represent our intention to collaborate with the community, the city, our tenants and our design team to find that common experience we all most desire. Our team has a relentless focus on creating spaces to informally gather and connect, like at 400 Fairview, where the Market Hall is used by our tenants and the neighborhood as a place to simply hang out and be.
Q: How did the concept for 2+U's Urban Village come together?
A: The Urban Village at 2+U is an evolution and amplification of our experiences at both Stone34 and 400 Fairview, as well as an opportunity to blend the indoor/outdoor retail space on a much larger scale. 2+U's open air, 24,000-square-foot, multi-level indoor/outdoor ground-level experience acts as a small mid-city park, connecting the community, tenants and neighbors with retail, arts and cultural space under the 85-foot office tower "lift."
By elevating our 2+U office tower to start at level seven, we carved out a physical void in the city to build a retail and arts and culture experience. Our intention for 2+U has always been to design and develop a building that defies what most buildings are in an effort to enhance the urban fabric of the city.
Q: How did the arts and culture space come together? Where did that idea come from?
A: Our team spent a considerable amount of time engaging with the local community, our neighbors and the city of Seattle during the project's early stages. What we heard and continue to hear is the need for more public gathering space in downtown Seattle backed by private funding.
Given 2+U's proximity to the Seattle Art Museum and Benaroya Hall, we also became keenly aware of the need for space dedicated to artists who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford studio space in Seattle.
With what we learned in mind, we spent nearly two years working with local arts organizations and the city of Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture to define how an authentic arts space could work on-site and those it should serve. The result of this stakeholder-driven effort is The Studio: a 1,100-square-foot community rehearsal space, self-financed by Skanska, designed to accommodate all types of local artists including dance, music, vocal performance and theater. Community partner Shunpike will help manage The Studio, as well as the art installations displayed within The Square, the 13,000-square-foot open-air public space within the Urban Village.
Q: Who will operate The Square?
A: The Downtown Seattle Association will manage year-round programming of The Square, which will range from concerts to large seasonal events. This partnership represents the first year-round programmed outdoor space in a Seattle commercial building. We're very proud of that!
Q: How's retail leasing coming along?
A: The Urban Village envisions a strong local retail strategy that acts as a magnet to the public day and night, weekdays through the weekend. To kick off our ground floor retail, we recently announced our first leases: local restaurateur Ethan Stowell will bring his Tavolata concept as an anchor retailer and local coffee provider Caffe Ladro will activate the 2+U lobby.