April 26th, 2011 by Thea
Last week we wrote that a City Council panel approved the lease agreement that will bring a Dale Chihuly exhibition space to the South Fun Forest site at Seattle Center. On Monday Council Bill 117157, which was subject to the full council’s approval, passed by unanimous vote.
The deal will allow Center Art, LLC “to develop, construct and operate an exhibition hall and art garden in the former South Fun Forest site at the Seattle Center,” according to a City Council statement released Monday.
The agreement came after months of back-and-forth and negotiations between city administrators, Chihuly himself, and members of the community. As per the terms of the deal, Center Art, LLC will be privately financing the entire project, as well as donating $1 million for the development of a creative children’s play area north of the Monorail in the former North Fun Forest space.
This project also includes an enhancement of 39,000 square feet of public walkways and landscaping around the exhibition site and a community partnership program with a focus on arts and education.
“The past sixteen months of negotiations have shown that good public process can lead to good public policy,” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who is chair of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, said in a statement. “Seattle will have another world class attraction and Seattle Center will be further invigorated through art, music and a creative new family play space.”
“I would like to thank the City Council for their hard work on this issue. Their efforts will make Seattle Center a better place for the public to enjoy,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement.
Just last week Seattle Center marked the one year countdown to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair, “The Next 50.” Currently Center Art, LLC plans to open its exhibition hall on April 21, 2012, to coincide with the 50th anniversary kick-off event.
For more information on the Chihuly exhibition space, and other projects going into Seattle Center in time for the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair next year, see our past coverage or “The Next 50″ website.
Tags: "glass house", 1962 World's Fair, Center Art, City Council, Dale Chihuly, Fun Forest, lease agreement, Mayor Mike McGinn, Sally Bagshaw, Seattle Center, The Next 50
April 22nd, 2011 by Thea
On Thursday a City Council panel approved a lease agreement to bring a Dale Chihuly gallery space to the Seattle Center campus, according to a report by the SeattlePI.
The proposal to build a 44,000 square-foot Chihuly exhibition space has been the center of much debate since it was first proposed in March 2010 as part of the Center’s redevelopment plan to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. After lots of back and forth between developers, Seattle Center administrators, Chihuly, city officials, and community members, Mayor Mike McGinn announced plans to move forward with the Chihuly space, alongside a new studio for KEXP and a kids playground and public open space area on the campus ground back in December.
However, according to the PI, the lease agreement clarified yesterday ensures that other artists will also be able to show and sell their works on campus grounds. From the PI:
The lease agreement was changed to allow other artists to sell their work at Seattle Center. The original lease would’ve precluded “certain retail art sales” other than Chihuly’s. Chihuly museum backers had previously said they would support a retail gallery that would exhibit and sell the works of other local artists, but that commitment wasn’t reflected in the original lease.
Councilman Nick Licata pushed for the amendment. “There will be space in the Center House where orther artists can display their artwork,” he said.
“I think we’re all in agreement that this was what we’d been talking about from the beginning,” added Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw.
As per the terms of the lease agreement, the rent for the Chihuly center will be $350,000 a year, and Seattle Center will get a cut of the glass exhibit’s net sales after the fifth year. The agreement, however, still needs to be ratified by the full City Council before development can move forward.
Read the full story at the SeattlePI.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, developments City Council, Fun Forest, lease agreement, Seattle Center
March 8th, 2011 by Thea
As the Seattle Center gears up for a six-month celebration surrounding its 50th Anniversary, the Metropolitan King County Council this week recognized the Center for “its legacy as the home of the 1962 World’s Fair.”
Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams (l) and Seattle Center Foundation Executive Director Tracy Robinson (r) are joined by the members of the King County Council.
Councilmember Larry Phillips, whose district includes Seattle Center, presented the recognition to Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams and Seattle Center Foundation Executive Director Tracy Robinson at the Council’s meeting on Monday, March 7.
“Seattle Center has a special personal connection for most King County residents, as it serves as the region’s gathering place,” said Phillips in a statement. “One of my fondest connections to the center is watching children play in the fountain that my father originally designed. The center’s 50th Anniversary commemoration is an opportunity to reminisce about the rich history of Seattle Center and the World’s Fair, as well as envision the Center’s future.” From the press release:
On April 21, 1962 the gates to Century 21 opened, and when the celebration ended on October 21, 1962, the World’s Fair had attracted 10 million visitors and introduced the Pacific Northwest to the world as the home of creative and practical solutions to our biggest challenges. Today, the 74-acre Seattle Center continues to prosper as our region’s premier urban park and cultural center. The World’s Fair and Seattle Center have brought five decades of economic, cultural, and social benefits to the region. Over 500 million people have visited the Seattle Center since 1962. Currently, Seattle Center annually welcomes 12 million visitors to nearly 500 programs and over 5,000 shows and events, generating $1.15 billion in business activity and $387 million in labor income for King County.
The center’s 50th Anniversary celebration will be focused on imagination, innovation, and involvement. As part of the commemoration, Seattle Center will be actively engaging the community in exploring, debating, and defining a collective vision for the next 50 years in eight key areas, including arts, culture, and design; sustainable futures; global health; science and technology; learning; commerce and the innovation economy; civic action; and history.
Find out more about Seattle Center’s plans for the 50th anniversary celebration, and the next 50 years here. Read more about the Center’s plans for the campus, including the Dale Chihuly glass house, outdoor green space, and KEXP studio in our past coverage here.
Tags: 1962 World's Fair, 50th anniversary celebration, Dale Chihuly, green space, KEXP, Larry Phillips, Metropolitan King County Council, Robert Nellams, Seattle Center, Tracy Robinson
December 15th, 2010 by Thea
Mayor Mike McGinn announced in a press conference at Seattle Center this morning that the city and Center will be moving ahead with plans to build a Dale Chihuly ‘glass house’ exhibition space at the Center’s former South Fun Forest site.
Images courtesy of the Mayor’s office.
In addition to the glass house, the Center will also be accepting two of the nine other submitted ideas for the space: KEXP will also be joining the Seattle Center community, coming on as a non-profit tenant, and a family-centric open playground will also be built at the Center in the North Fun Forest site.
The press conference is still in progress. We will update this story as soon as it concludes.
Update 12 p.m.: After the city announced potential plans for building a 44,000-square-foot ‘glass house’ to showcase artist Dale Chihuly’s work on the Seattle Center campus last March, debate erupted over whether this was the right decision for the Center. After some public backlash, the city solicited alternative plans for the space at the South Fun Forest site, taking into consideration the 5oth Anniversary celebrations of the 1962 World’s Fair that brought the Space Needle to Seattle.
Of the nine proposals that were submitted, the city today announced that it intends to move ahead with three of them—Chihuly’s glass house, the KEXP studio, and a childrens playground—with the commitment that it will pursue other ideas as plans for the continued development of Seattle Center unfold.
“Our goal here is to make the Center more vibrant—more music, more art—we want to make it more kid-friendly, which is why we have the playgroung, and we want to make it more financially viable,” Mayor Mike McGinn said at the press conference. “So we can finance all of the great things that are free and of no charge to the general public.”
The city and Center are pushing ahead with deals with the Wright family, who own the iconic Space Needle and have been backing plans for the Chihuly exhibition space, stating that it will be a big tourist attraction and economic stimulus for the Center. After complaints from many in the community who would rather see the South Fun Forest used for public open space rather than a pay-for-entry exhibition, the Wright family tacked on several provisions to sweeten the deal, including joint programming with Seattle Public Schools, and financial support for the outdoor play area.
As part of the agreement, the Wright family will be donating $2 million toward the play area—$1 million for the initial construction of the public playground, and another $1 million to support its maintenance needs over the next 20 years.
“This project will bring 255 new jobs to the Seattle Center. And there will be no public funds needed to fund it or build it. We’re also proud to be joining in partnership with the Pratt Fine Arts Center, Pilchuk Glass School, and others,” Jeff Wright said. “It will maximize open space and it will give us opportunities with the Memorial Stadium.”
In additional to the Chihuly exhibit space, the Center will also become the new home for KEXP, which will be moving its broadcasting studio on campus and connecting with many of the other Center tenants, including the Vera Project, to built out the city’s musical programming.
Through the deal KEXP, a non-profit, will bring more live, free performances to Seattle Center, and will partner with Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Public Library, the Seattle Channel, EMP, UW and a number of other local organizations to make music more readily available to city services and residents and develop multi-platform musical programing for the public.
“KEXP is more than a radio station—we are an arts organization and we make a different in people’s lives by championing music,” said KEXP executive director Tom Mara. “We are on our way to becoming a music center—a place that will bring vitality to the Seattle Center and economic development to a neighborhood, Queen Anne.”
The KEXP studio, which would be located in a 27,960-square-foot space in the Center’s Northwest rooms in the corner of Seattle Center, is still two years down the line. According to Mara and Mayor McGinn, the organization needs time to raise the funds to refurbish the building and outfit it for its needs.
“We’ve agreed that the earliest we can have access to this building is right on the heels of the end of the anniversary celebration, which is November 2012,” Seattle Center Century 21 chair Bill Block said, adding that the organization will soon be conducting a feasibility study to determine exactly how much they will need to make the “significant improvements in both the shell of the building and the interior” needed.
Mayor McGinn says that once KEXP is moved into the center, they will provide an “appropriate level of revenue and support” for the campus through the organization’s non-profit dues, and the promotion of the Center via KEXP’s daily broadcasts, events, and other promotions.
“We were arguing over this whether I was allowed to say they were the coolest music radio station in the universe—so I’m not allowed to say that, but they are very, very cool, and they represent Seattle’s spirit too,” he said. “The idea that we’re going to have them here in Seattle Center with the deal that they will be a non-profit center—they will be promoting Seattle Center nationally and internationally day after day.”
The timeline for the childrens play area is also is similar to that of KEXP, though it already has the financial backing of the Wright family. The playground site will be located in the North Fun Forest, which from April 2011 to October 2012 will be housing a 200-foot observation wheel, part of the Center’s The Next Fifty–Seattle 2012 anniversary celebrations. The playground itself is slated to open in 2013.
When asked if the city and Seattle Center would be pursuing any of the other proposed plans for the Fun Forest sites—which included Northwest Native Cultural Center, and Center Park—down the line, Mayor McGinn responded, “the short answer is yes.”
“It has more to do with the evolution of their ideas,” he said. “Chihuly and KEXP were further along in the development of their ideas, but we want to partner with other organizations in pursuing other ideas.” He added that the city will be putting together a task force made up of the Seattle Center Foundation, 4Culture, and a capital campaign led by Jeff Wright, to guide the further development of the north Fun Forest and Memorial Stadium. This task force will be charged with moving plans forward for:
- An open, competitive process to design and develop the north Fun Forest as open space along the lines of the vision put forward by Open Platform,
- Moving forward on the vision for the new Memorial Stadium, including removal of the southern wall, and
- an overall $10 million capital campaign commitment to improve open spaces in the Fun Forest area and where it integrates with Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve come up with something here that we hope really speaks to different parts of Seattle’s spirit,” said Mayor McGinn. “We want to make it something that speaks to the best of Seattle, and makes it an inspiring place.”
The tone echoed by each of the speakers was that this plan is not the be all end all of Seattle Center, but rather just the beginning of the Center’s revitalization, as the city works to solidify it as a focal point for Seattle’s arts and cultural scene, and the heart of the South Lake Union to Elliot Bay loop.
“It’s not Chihuly or KEXP, it’s Chihuly and KEXP and this great family center,” said City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “It’s going to connect South Queen Anne and Uptown and the Center here in a way that we’ve never seen before.”
“Today is a testament to what Seattle Center means to the community,” said Seattle Center director Robert Nallams. “That’s the beauty of this place—it’s something for everybody, not everything for everybody.”
Mayor McGinn reiterated that the work is not done yet—the Center will have to break ground on the new exhibition space soon if it expects to complete it in time for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
“Chihuly and that exhibit is going to be ready to go before the 2012 celebrations. The City Council will be reviewing this, of course, but I have to say we are uniting on this and it’s going to happen,” Bagshaw said.
“Nothing about this was pre-ordained. There were negotiations, and more negotiations,” Mayor McGinn said. “We have some very firm things we’re doing today—Chihuly, KEXP, the playground, and the opportunity for open space. We have more work to do…We’re doing out best here to make this the kind of place where people want to be.”
Tags: "glass house", 9 proposals, Dale Chihuly, KEXP, Mayor McGinn, Memorial Stadium, Playground, Seattle Center
July 7th, 2010 by Thea
There’s going to be an open house and community meeting on the proposals for the south Fun Forest replacement tonight, Wednesday, July 7 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Seattle Center’s Center House main stage.
The open house will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m., when attendees will have the opportunity to meet with the various project proposers and talk one on one. The meeting will follow from 6 to 8 p.m.
The south side of the Fun Forest, not to be confused with the north area (which the Center has also been seeking redevelopment project proposals for) has been the center of a heated discussion over the last few months, mainly in regards to whether or not the site should house a 44,000 square-foot “glass house” with Dale Chihuly exhibit space. After a rash of reactions on both sides, the Center asked the public to submit alternative bids. The resulting alternate proposals include a Native American cultural center, Museum of Mysteries, KEXP studio and open space park, among others.
The Center invites anyone interested in learning more about these proposals to attend the meeting tonight.
Members of the public are strongly urged to review the proposals in advance. There will be no formal presentations by proposers at the 6 p.m. meeting.
For more information on the meeting or the RFP review process, see the Seattle Center release here.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, Fun Forest, KEXP, Museum of Mysteries, Native American Cultural Center, open house, public meeting, RFP, Seattle Center
June 14th, 2010 by Thea
Ever since the owners of the Space Needle announced plans to build a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” and Dale Chihuly exhibit space on the north half of the Seattle Center Fun Forest site back in March, lines have been drawn between supporters who believe the project would bring an attractive economic stimulus to the campus, and opponents who would rather see the Center’s public space (as it is on public land) used for more free and public purposes.
(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).
The original proposal outlined the use of the 44,000-square-foot parcel of land directly below the Space Needle for a “glass house” with 3,800 square feet dedicated as an indoor exhibit space for Dale Chihuly’s art, an outdoor public garden and plaza, and a cafe/bookstore/retail space.
In an attempt to make the proposal more appealing to community members citywide, the Space Needle Corp. last week announced a proposal to fold art education and resources into the project, including an art-inspired playground and a new partnership that would bring greater arts programming to Seattle Public Schools, according to our news partner, The Seattle Times.
A detailed proposal released Thursday in response to a public records request says the Chihuly exhibit would return $24 million over 20 years to the city in lease money and taxes.
The Chihuly project is up against eight other proposals–including a Native Cultural Center for the First Peoples of Seattle, a Seattle Museum of Mysteries, a new home for KEXP’s studio, and a public space called “Center Park,” to name a few–sought by the Center after backlash from the public regarding a lack of options for the site. Other concerns from the public revolved around a hesitation to add another paid admission exhibition at the Center, and the need for a more kid-friendly use of the space. From the Times:
On the defensive, the new Chihuly proposal seeks to address those concerns. Its proposal includes a letter of support from Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson for a plan to develop an 8th-grade science and art curriculum about glass that would culminate with a field trip to the exhibit, all funded by the Space Needle Corp.
Supporters, however, have stood by the belief that a Chihuly-centered exhibit would bring a lot of tourism money from around the world and would help stimulate traffic to other local sites in Seattle. The Space Needle (which is owned by the Wright family) and Chihuly himself have also committed to supporting other local arts organizations through the project, including ArtsFund and the Pilchuck Glass School, which Chihuly founded.
The Wright family has also offered $2 million to fund and maintain an “Art Playground.” They would invite local artists to design playground equipment inspired by the Seattle Center or the 1962 World’s Fair that was held there. They would select four or five winners, build their designs and maintain the structures for 20 years, according to the proposal.
Read the full Times piece here.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, Fun Forest, project proposals, Seattle Center, Space Needle Corp.
April 2nd, 2010 by Thea
If you’ve been following the Chihuly “glass house” debate over the last few weeks, you’ve probably got an opinion. At least, some 400 people who attended the community meeting on the proposal Tuesday night did. Many were in favor of the 44,000-square-foot project, while others are calling for alternative proposals that make better us of public open space.
(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).
Supporters of the project are now on a PR campaign, organizing speakers at the meeting, handing out “Chihuly at the Needle” buttons and offering incentives, like a $25 gift certificate to the Space Needle restaurant to people who become “fans of the project on Facebook (this promotion has since been taken down), according to a report by our news partners, the Seattle Times. Read the full story here.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, project proposal, Seattle Center, Space Needle
March 31st, 2010 by Thea
Around 400 people attended the public meeting at Seattle Center last night to discuss what will become of the 5 acres of open space that used to be home to the Fun Forest, according to our news partners the Seattle Times.
(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).
One proposal outlines plans for a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” that would include an outdoor public garden, plaza, bookstore with cafe and retail space, and a 3,800-square-foot space for permanent a Dale Chihuly exhibit. The project, expected to cost an estimated $15 million, would be financed by the Wright family, the original builders and owners of the Space Needle. Many estimate the paid-admission venue would bring in hefty revenue for the Center, which funds 67 percent of its budget on its own.
The Times reported that there were voices of both support and opposition represented at the meeting last night. From the Times:
“It’s a smart addition to the Center and an amazing opportunity for Seattle,” said Deborah Person, managing director for the Seattle International Film Festival, which uses Seattle Center as a venue.
Ron Sevart, CEO of the Space Needle, talked about how the project would bring scores of family-wage construction jobs.
Many who oppose the project argue that the city should take advantage of 5 acres of open space in the middle of town, while others say alternative options should be considered before a decision is made. From the Times:
Iain Robertson, a landscape architect, called himself a “grass-roots supporter of grass.” He said Seattle Center is not the right location for a glass exhibit and that the city would be foolish to give up nearly 2 acres of open space.
“For us as a city to replace that [open space] in the future would cost an enormous amount of money,” he said. “You just don’t get a chance at this much open space in the center of the city.”
In response to the outcry of opinions around the proposal, the Seattle Center announced last week that it would be accepting public bids to compete with the “glass house” project. Read the Seattle Times’ coverage of last night’s meeting here.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, open space, proposals, public meeting, Seattle Center, Seattle Times
March 29th, 2010 by Thea
When Seattle Center first announced the proposal to build a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” at the base of the Space Needle (the former home of the Fun Forest), many were surprised by the prospect of an admission-only, for profit exhibit space moving into the Center grounds.
(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).
The $15 million project, which would be financed by the Wright family, the builders and owners of the Space Needle, would include an outdoor public garden, a plaza, a bookstore with cafe and retail space, and a 3,800-square-foot exhibition space for artist Dale Chihuly’s work. However, since the plans were revealed two weeks ago, many have expressed an interest in seeing alternative plans, especially one that would maximize public open space, rather than a paid-admission exhibit.
Earlier this month the Center announced that it would be holding a public meeting on March 30 to discuss the proposals to replace the Fun Forest, and last week they ensured Seattle residents that the decision process would be transparent and with significant public input.
According to our news partners, the Seattle Times, the Center is actively seeking public bids to compete with the “glass house” proposal. And though the details of a public bidding process have not yet been worked out, both Mayor Mike McGinn and the chairwoman of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, have expressed support in the decision. From the Times:
“We heard the public, that they want an open process, and we’re going to do an open process,” McGinn said. “Any proposal will have to win the support of the public, because the public loves Seattle Center.”
Read the full Times story here.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, Fun Forest, Mayor Mike McGinn, proposals, public meeting, Seattle Center, Space Needle, Wright family
March 19th, 2010 by Thea
Wondering what will become of Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium and former Fun Forest space? So far there have been proposals for an outdoor amphitheater as well as a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” that would include open space, retail, outdoor gardens and a Dale Chihuly museum. The city has set up a meeting to discuss the future of Seattle Center’s open space on Tuesday, March 30. But in the meantime if you want to brush up on the issue, our news partner the Seattle Times published a comprehensive overview of the Seattle Center master plan, idea proposals, the funding behind it, and community reaction in yesterday’s paper. Read it here.
Tags: Dale Chihuly, Fun Forest, master plan, Memorial Stadium, Seattle Center, Seattle Times
March 12th, 2010 by Thea
The Seattle Center has been debating what to do with 68,000 square feet of empty space left after half of the Fun Forest was cleared out back in January. Originally the space was meant to be used to showcase new vendors and temporary projects on a trial basis while the Center searched for more permanent ideas to implement into the Century 21 Master Plan, a $570 million, 20-year investment in the revitalization of Seattle Center and in homage of the 1962 World’s Fair that gave the Center its start.
(Image by Studio 216 for Owen Richards Architects, courtesy of both).
However, according to a report by our news partner, the Seattle Times, after receiving project ideas for the space that left the Center “disappointed,” they decided to consider a proposal to build a 44,000-square-foot “glass house” that would house artist Dale Chihuly‘s work. Many consider this proposed project an “extraordinary opportunity” for the Center. From the Times,
The Wright family, which built and owns the Space Needle, on Tuesday described a partnership with Chihuly and Seattle that could attract more than 1,000 visitors a day if the city will lease about an acre of land for what would be a $15 million tribute to the glass artist.
If built, a Chihuly spokeswoman said, the new “glass house” would be filled with at least $50 million worth of Chihuly art.
The 44,000 square feet of land directly below the Space Needle slotted for the project includes 3,800 square feet of indoor “glass house” exhibit space, outdoor public gardens and a plaza, as well as a café and bookstore/retail space.
Mayor Mike McGinn has voiced his support for the project’s consideration, noting that it could be a valuable revenue generator for the Center, which funds 67 percent of its own budget without assistance. However, others are concerned that the proposal takes away from the original plan for the space, which was intended to be a more open, multi-use, outdoor arena that would be open to the public free of charge. From the Times,
“There’s good intentions all around, but we need to decide, is this what we want to do with our public property?” said City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the council’s Parks and Seattle Center Committee. “We’re taking green, open space and closing it off in a very walled fashion, and people can only enter into that if they can pay. My hope and dream would be to make the Seattle Center Seattle’s ‘Central Park,’ and the more green space we give away, the less we’re going to have a Central Park.”
If the Center goes through with the proposal, Space Needle CEO Ron Sevart told the Times he hopes that construction would begin on the Chihuly space when the lease for the Fun Forest expires in September.
The project could open in the spring of 2011, in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair at the Center. Sevart said he didn’t know what admission would cost but said it might be in the $12 to $14 range.
This is not the only big change proposed at Seattle Center. Much discussion has circulated around a deal between the city and Seattle Public Schools concerning the ownership of Memorial Stadium.
The new deal would give ownership of the stadium over to the city, which would then rebuilt it into a “green, integrated, multi-functional space that provides for year-round community and school activities” to be shared between the School District and Seattle Center. In exchange, the city would give the school district preferential use of the new, smaller amphitheater and hand over ownership of an adjacent existing plot of land (currently being used as a parking garage). Read more on that deal here and here. Read background on the Fun Forest replacement project here. See the full Seattle Times story on the proposed Chihuly exhibit space here.
What do you think Queen Anne? Would you like to see a 44,000-square-foot “glass house”, equiped with gardens, a plaza and a 3,800-square-foot exhibit of masterful (some would say) glass creations, or would you prefer an admission-free open space? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Tags: "glass house", Dale Chihuly, exhibit space, Fun Forest, Memorial Stadium, proposed projects, Seattle Center