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June 13, 2016

Selig wants to add eight floors to Federal Reserve Building on Second

Journal Staff Reporter

Image courtesy of Bain LLC [enlarge]
New construction would add 125,000 square feet of office space, including a two-story penthouse.

Martin Selig Real Estate has scaled back plans for an addition to the former Federal Reserve Building at 1015 Second Ave. in Seattle, and the son and grandson of the original architect are helping with the design.

The Seattle development firm is now proposing to add eight levels with 125,000 square feet of office space to the four-story building. That would bring the total square footage to 225,000.

The Federal Reserve Building is clad in Indiana limestone and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by William Bain Sr., a founder of NBBJ in Seattle, and completed in 1950. The space has been vacant since 2008, and is mostly unchanged.

Selig acquired it for $16 million through an auction in 2015.

The architectural team is William Bain Sr.'s son Bill Bain, the Seattle firm atelierjones (founded by Susan Jones) and Perkins+Will. John Bain of atelierjones is part of the team. He is the grandson of William Bain Sr.

Martin Selig said on Friday that the project's prime location and unique character make it special.

“Where else do you see somebody taking a 66-year-old building, preserving it and adding on to it,” he said. “I don't see anything like that in Seattle.”

The Selig team on Friday presented the new proposal to the architectural review committee of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, which must approve changes to city landmarks such as this.

Selig had previously proposed to create a 48-story project, including the original building. It would have had 32 levels of office space and 192 residential units on 12 levels.

Sarah Sodt, landmarks board coordinator, said the committee had felt that would overwhelm the landmark and asked the developer to come back with alternatives.

The new concept calls for attaching the addition to the back of the Federal Reserve Building. That new construction would extend up and over the older building. A two-story inset, which the team calls a “hyphen,” would sit right above the older structure, topped by four floors that are intended to mirror the proportion of the original building. A two-story penthouse office space would be on top.

Susan Jones said after the meeting that the goal is to make the addition transparent and light. It would have an almost sheer glass curtain-wall with glass fins.

Part of the Second Avenue side could have video art elements that are illuminated at night, Jones said.

The basement has a two-story, 5,000-square-foot vault with 30-inch concrete walls that Selig said could become a cafe.

A roof terrace is planned on the fourth level, and the plaza in front will be preserved as a historic feature.

John Bain told the committee on Friday that his grandfather designed the structure so it could be expanded, and even included two extra elevators bays.

“He built the future of it with the original plan,” Bain said. “I can tell his logic. It's almost as if I am talking to my grandfather from the 1950s.”

Aaron Luoma, a member of the architectural review committee, called the new design intriguing and said some elements have “really good potential and merit.” But he also expressed concerns: “I don't want to have too much attention (called) to the crystal on top and not the historic building.”

Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services for Historic Seattle, said this is an improvement, adding that she would like it “if it wasn't over a landmark building.”

Selig said the committee offered constructive criticism and direction.

“Everybody liked the design,” he said. “It's just the refinements we're going to get down to.”

Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor on the project, and KPFF Consulting Engineers is the structural engineer.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.