Topic: Beacon Hill
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February 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Sketched Feb. 12, 2013
It sits atop Beacon Hill like, well, a beacon: the striking orange brick building that no one seems to call by the same name.
Built in 1933 as the U.S. Marine Hospital, it was later known as the Pacific Medical Center and still houses the medical provider in the ground and basement floors. Then, after Amazon leased most of the space in 1999, people just referred to it as the Amazon building.
Now, “We call it the Pacific Tower,” said Michael Finch, the commercial real-estate agent tasked with finding new tenants for the historic landmark where Amazon grew to be the world’s largest online retailer.
Employees who walked through this art-deco lobby will still remember the espresso bar and hair salon down the hall, the full-service cafeteria on the second floor and the expansive views from the auditorium on the eighth floor.
As I walked by empty work spaces, I could only imagine the vibe inside these walls. With so many young workers cramming 13 floors — even Jeff Bezos had a tiny office — it must have felt like a college dorm.
Beautiful art-deco patterns and limestone walls transport you back to the 1930s when you enter the former hospital.
A napkin holder is still laying on the counter of the espresso bar on the first floor. Michael Finch said a similar booth across the hall was used as a hair salon.
Picture Amazon employees waiting to the check-out at the cafeteria. The Smith Tower and other downtown landmarks are visible through the windows.
Michael Finch showed me around the executive quarters on the 6th floor. The office used by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has direct access to the fire exit but little views. I’m guessing he probably didn’t want to be distracted by the great views he could have enjoyed from other parts of the building.
The conference room on the 8th floor gives you an idea of those views.
The 13th floor was originally used as storage, but at some point Amazon also renovated it for office space.
April 1, 2011 at 11:40 AM
Sketched March 22, 2:14 p.m.
Since the construction fence came down last fall, Matt Buhl has come to Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park more than 40 times. His dog, Bauser, runs alongside as he bikes to the top of the hill, where a new, neatly landscaped vista point offers one of the best views of Seattle I’ve found so far. The best part? “The trees obscure the ugly Sodo area,” said Buhl.
Jefferson Park has undergone a major transformation since 2009 and more changes are coming. The space occupied by 100-year-old concrete water reservoirs was filled with soil and landscaped, opening up more than 26 acres of new green space.
Park project manager Andy Sheffer said construction of a “spray” park with climbable slopes, slides and sprinklers for summer cooling will start by late June. And the grass on the sports meadow will be ready for soccer, frisbee and Samoan cricket games in July.
I discovered Jefferson Park as part of my monthly neighborhood exploration. Where should I go next? Send me suggestions via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.
October 6, 2010 at 6:24 PM
Sketched Oct. 6, 11:12 a.m. [Click sketches to view larger]
Picture a boulevard going from West Seattle to Beacon Hill with a lush canopy of trees on both sides of the road. City landscape architect Shane DeWald CQ said we’re a step closer to achieving that plan envisioned by Seattle pioneers.
On Sunday, the city is inviting volunteers to help plant 100 trees along the South Columbian Way corridor between Beacon Ave S. and 15th Avenue S. Crews have been working since May building new sidewalks and have dug 2-foot-deep holes to accommodate the trees.
The street is like a blank canvas waiting to be painted green, said DeWald, who was inspired by the diverse character of the neighborhood to select nine different varieties of trees. They include Eddie’s White Wonder dogwood, Triumph and Chenmoui elm, Japanese and American hornbeam, and Akebono and Cornelian cherry. “People will appreciate the variety of flowers and fall colors.”
Sunday’s event, detailed at sdotblog.seattle.gov, is one of thousands of work parties in Seattle and around the world celebrating 10/10/10, a global day of environmental action.
For Brett Fashaw, the Bobcat operator I sketched, the planting of the trees is a sign of progress. He grew up in this area but moved further south to Kent in the 70s.
Fashaw is the first company president I meet behind the steering wheel of an excavator. The motto of his business, Garrison Creek Landscaping, is “No job is Too Small.”
I would add “or takes us too long” to that. He was digging holes so fast that I could barely keep up with my sketching! “He’s going to town,” said foreman Will Wright.
Celon Glymph also grew up near South Columbian Way but moved to Federal Way years ago. He recalled when there were no skyscrapers in downtown Seattle. “In 30 years they’ve built so many hi-rises but no streets,” he said. “They should have planted (the trees) here a long time ago.”
See uncropped versions of the sketches here, here and here.
See the sketch location on my Seattle Sketcher Google Map.
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