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Triad's development concept for the old Public Safety Building site incorporates a new civic square for Seattle's 21st century. The Civic Square design aspires to be a model of sustainable design as a catalyst for our civic culture, for the vitality of South Downtown, and a welcoming place for our diverse community to come together.

Project Description

Public Plaza
The plaza is the primary gathering space for the public and touches all sides of the block. It is a people place (at Yesler Street) rich with stately trees, seating, gentle lawns and a shallow pool fed by stormwater. It is the city's family room, accommodating shoppers and book groups, residents and travelers, suits and outdoorsmen. It is a place for all and a true civic destination with shopping, services and trails but has a civic nature that pulls the threads of the surrounding blocks toward its center. This is where art installations, evening concerts, ethnic markets and public dialogue can all take place. The space is large enough to accommodate a large performance, but will also provide a series of more intimate gathering areas.

The pavilion is the focal point of the open space with transparent walls and a distinctive green roof. It provides a gathering place for music, exhibitions, lectures, parties, weddings and any number of citizen-based activities. Its green roof, accessible to the public, carries roof water from the tower through a water garden to a basin in the open space. At night, the building appears as a glowing lantern welcoming all.

Integral to the spirit and physical character of the project is the overt expression of stormwater. Water is moved by expressive conveyance - scuppers, piping and aqueducts. Residents and visitors to the Civic Square are reminded of the seasonality and subtlety of our weather with intermittent streams and seasonal pools. Stormwater will be stored and reused for irrigation.

Civic Square Tower
This is a complex building whose uses are vertically integrated. Its facades respond to the seasons, views and uses. Its physical expression is uncluttered and materials honestly used. The tower splays to the west maximizing views. To the south, it buttresses at the ground (reminiscent of historic cedars) providing shelter for ground level uses. The lower portions of the south facade are cloaked with a metal screen to both absorb and dissipate energy. Other sustainable measures include energy recovery and generation, optimized natural light and ventilation and recycled water systems. The sustainable goal for the building is LEED Platinum. The physical and perceived qualities of the tower are organic, transparent and dynamic.

Services, retail and public spaces intertwine along the west edge of the block. The engaging storefronts and walkways lead pedestrians into an extensive marketplace and into the plaza. A broad range of retailers, service providers and public amenities make up this year-round destination providing in-city needs in a dense and active collection of facades and uses, including cafes, barbers, child care centers, drug stores, clothing retailers, classrooms, bike lockers, etc.

The impact of the Civic Square will reach beyond its boundaries to become the focus of activity and services for a broader community. Similar to Pioneer Square, the public domain in this new civic district will have distinct and consistent design elements including furnishings, plantings and paving. Curb bulbs, wayfinding markers and seating will encourage pedestrian movement and access through the district.

Civic Square Tower in Seattle's skyline
Image: Foster + Partners


city hall
Civic Square as viewed from Seattle City Hall.
Image: Foster + Partners

Civic Square site in downtown Seattle context
Image: Foster + Partners

Light-rail exit with rainscreen protection
Image: Foster + Partners

Nighttime at Civic Square
Image: Foster + Partners

Daytime at Civic Square
Image: Foster + Partners
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2801 Alaskan Way, Suite 107
Seattle, WA 98121
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