“What Makes a Great Waterfront?” City of Seattle’s Public Meeting

18 02 2011

I had the pleasure of attending the City of Seattle’s Public meeting on the progress of the Seattle Waterfront tonight at the Seattle Aquarium. Check out the Seattle Channel for a video of the event.

CEO of the Aquarium Bob Davidson, Director of Planning Marshall Foster, and Mayor McGinn were in attendance but the real gem was James Corner, who presented analysis and aspirations for the waterfront.

James Corner, leading designer of the new Seattle Waterfront, explained the issues behind creating a new waterfront that would become a gateway: not static but full of movement and dynamics. The graphics were outstanding, clearly explaining the users of the waterfront (neighbors, entrepreneurs, business owners, commuters, greens, shippers and builders, tribes, visitors, creatives, and sports teams) as informing the whole waterfront. The waterfront was split into sections:

  • The Stadiums > which need a direct connection to the waterfront
  • Pioneer Square
  • Colman Dock > needs to be a celebration as a gateway
  • Commercial Piers
  • Public Piers > link market to waterfront
  • Bell Harbor
  • North End

Each section had simple line diagrams of the vertical difference at East/West streets that clearly showed the issues of connecting the waterfront to downtown. Also, beautiful rendered perspectives showed the issues at each district. I only had my phone so sorry the pictures aren’t very good quality.

A favorite of mine was the comparison of the width of Seattle’s Alaskan Way to other waterfront corridors around the nation. James Corner showed how Seattle does not have as much width as several other succesful waterfronts but that we have an opportunity to make a new kind of downtown waterfront.

Corner also mentioned the types of uses/actions he hopes the waterfront will have: STROLL, JOG, BIKE, BLADE, SAIL, WADE, CANOE, KAYAK, FISH, TOUCH WATER, EVENTS, SOAK SUN, SWIM, CLIMB, PICNIC, PLAY, COMMUTE, FERRY, SHOP, EAT, BEACHCOMB, EXPERIENCE HABITAT, DISCOVER

Foster and McGinn mentioned scheduling and funding. 2013 is when the replacement of the seawall will take place with 2016 marking the demolishment of the viaduct and the waterfront being built. McGinn mentioned that all of the funding is not allocated and there will need to be a seawall ballot measure.

Some other facts:

  • 2.1 million gallons of storm water are discharged into the Puget Sound each year
  • 3.7 million people live in the metropolitan area > includes 160,000 commuters, 615,000 city residents, 65,000 waterfront residents
  • Annual visitors include: 850,000 to Aquarium, 800,000 to the SAM, 1 million to the Space Needle, 10 million to Pike Place, and over 9.5 million overnight visitors

I am impressed and am looking forward to future progress. May 2011 marks the next public meeting where alternatives will be presented.

Check out a post-event new video: KIROTV



Check out a couple of pre-event news pieces:

Ideas sought on redesign of Seattle waterfront  The Seattle Times 

Post-viaduct: Can waterfront be Seattle’s ‘new face’? The Seattle P-I 

Crosscut Tout: A Waterfront Park design-o-rama  Crosscut.com

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