Capitol Hill

Central atrium inside Allen Institute.  Photo: Anthony Bolante/Puget Sound Business Journal

Science, art, and efficiency integrate seamlessly, not unlike our own left and right brains, in the architecture and structure of The Allen Institute building, located near the southwest bank of Lake Union. The large, LED-driven installation on the exterior façade, which is based upon neural brain activity and perception, transitions between colors and layered images. And among other unique building features is the engineering marvel of corralling existing mineral springs so a building could reliably stand on the site. The Allen Institute at 615 Westlake Ave. N. encompasses three entities: the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Allen Institute for Cell Science and Paul G. Allen Frontiers.

Allen Institute exterior. Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

According to Puget Sound Business Journal, philanthropist Paul Allen’s 270,000 square foot, 7-story building has now won two awards from Engineering News-Record: ENR Northwest’s “Project of the Year” and Best “Higher Education/Research” project. Only 20 real estate developments were given commendations this year for any “Best of the Best” category. The two awards mentioned were given to the Allen Institute, in ENR’s words, “for achieving the promise of a collaborative concept, overcoming dewatering and structural challenges, and preserving a historical site.”

Dewatering? Structural challenges? What historical site? Well, “dewatering” refers to the mineral springs mentioned earlier; they bubbled up during initial excavation, which had to be addressed so the structure of the building wouldn’t buckle. Especially since the P4 parking garage is 34 feet below water level. Through a series of dewatering wells built during construction and careful monitoring over time of water pressure on shoring walls (more than 100 of them), the team was able to determine that the structure would hold. Because of a clever treatment system that filters the ground water so efficiently that it is released into Lake Union cleaner than the actual lake water, the WA Department of Ecology approved it.

Looking east toward Lake Union.

The integrity of the former Ford and Pacific McKay car showrooms on-site, designated as a historic landmark, needed to be considered. Pioneer Masonry catalogued, disassembled, and stored any protected components from the buildings, especially the terra-cotta façade which was later reassembled using a virtual 3D model made previously. The new building was built to wrap around the older ones.

The new Allen Institute building wraps around historic car showrooms.

The interior of the facility has interesting features as well. Studio SC built the external public artwork called “Pathways” that adorns the exterior, but also provided wayfinding graphics/ signage within the building. The central atrium of the building is built to promote easy access between labs and offices, between co-workers in different departments. The excess heat produced by the data center, which stores a huge amount of information, is effectively re-routed to provide heating and cooling for the building. Besides the data center, the institute also has wet and dry labs, an electron microscopy area, auditorium, and a center for education.

Studio SC’s public art installation “Pathways”, exterior.  Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography

Paul Allen, who initially made his fortune as co-founder of Microsoft, began this non-profit in 2003 to study the workings of the brain in an “open science” model (greatly simplified, meaning easier access to scientific knowledge and research). An interesting link to explore, the Allen Brain Atlas, gives a peek into the depth of what is studied here.


Owner/Developer: Vulcan Inc.
General Contractor: GLY
Lead Design/Architect Firm: Perkins+Will
Subcontractors: BOLA Architecture + Planning; Candela; Sparling; Coughlin Porter Lundeen; McKinstry; Affiliated Engineers NW; Valley Electric; GeoEngineers; Pioneer Masonry


A little piece of our local history: KCTS public television recently aired a special called “The Boys of ‘36” regarding the 1936 USA rowing team that unexpectedly won gold at the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany during Hitler’s reign. These young men were from the University of WA rowing team, and came from humble origins: sons of loggers, fishermen, and shipyard workers. They overcame great odds (financially, physically, and emotionally) during the Depression era to accomplish this. One of them even joined the team so he’d have enough food to eat each day. Recently, the last remaining member of the team passed away in his 90’s.

A book entitled “The Boys in the Boat” was written by local author Daniel James Brown about this team, which became a bestseller. This Olympic event was an important moment in not only Seattle’s, but our country’s history.

What’s better than drinking beer? Drinking beer for a cause, of course.

Seattle’s listener-powered radio station KEXP has partnered with Scuttlebutt Brewing Company to create an exclusive beer: the Transistor IPA. 100 percent of the net proceeds from this session-friendly Northwest IPA will benefit the campaign for KEXP’s new home. The beer will be available at grocery stores and on tap throughout the greater Seattle area as of September 1st. Check out an intro video here.

Tasting notes: “Transistor IPA is a crisp and session-friendly brew, with floral and woody hop notes and a beautiful golden hue. It is brewed with the Northwest’s finest ingredients including: barley from Vancouver (WA); Columbus, Chinook, Glacier and Nugget hops from Yakima Valley (WA); yeast from Odell (OR); and some of the nation’s finest drinking water from the Spada Reservoir in the Cascade Mountains.” The packaging and label were designed by co-founder of Lakuna Design and Throwing Muses drummer, Dave Narcizo.

The beer will make its debut on Tuesday, September 1st at the Transistor IPA Launch Party. Join the Scuttlebutt Brewing team and KEXP staff members and listeners at Moe Bar from 5-7pm for this first official tasting and kick-off event!

From the KEXP blog: “We are very excited to work with Scuttlebutt,” said KEXP Morning Show host John Richards. “They are a local, family run, family owned brewery who makes great beer, and we are a Seattle based radio station run by the community, for the community – it couldn’t be a better pair. We are grateful for this partnership and can’t wait to share this delicious beer with the city.”


Featured photo via KEXP

With Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, this weekend’s Pride is guaranteed to be more colorful and exciting than ever. The grand finale of Seattle Pride wraps up this weekend with plenty of rainbows to go around. Here’s your guide to Pride events you won’t want to miss:

Saturday, June 27

Capitol Hill Pride Festival

Pride takes over the Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday along Broadway Avenue, Cal Anderson Park, and the Pike/Pine corridor. This is the largest Pride Street Festival in the Northwest! A march will begin at the Seattle Central campus and continue north on Broadway to Harrison street, which will be closed to cars all day and open to vendors, stages, art, restaurant seating and live entertainment. Cal Anderson Park will have speakers and family-friendly activities throughout the day. Be sure to look up at buildings around the neighborhood, where your images and comments will be projected through the Here and Queer project!

Sunday, June 28

Seattle Pride Parade  | 11am

The final and biggest Pride event kicks off at 4th Avenue and Union Street, ending at 2nd Avenue and Denny Way. This year’s theme, “A Lifetime of Pride,” honors those who serve the community regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, class, ability or status. “Pride exists in us all—for a lifetime.” Beer gardens will open at 9:30am at Westlake Park, Bell Street, and Clay Street. A pre-show will launch the parade at 10am, then last about 2.5 hours before arriving at Seattle Center. Enjoy special guests, classic parade floats, dykes on bikes, and plenty of happy Seattleites showing their pride!

PrideFest | noon

When the Parade ends, PrideFest begins at Seattle Center. Celebrate the victory of #MarriageEquality for the rest of the day at this city-wide party! There will be entertainment, a lineup of live music at three stages, food, vendors, and plenty of flying colors. #LoveWins

Featured photo found here