Midtown Commons design team to make case for art

Midtown Center redevelopment up for third recommendation meeting

Midtown Commons design team to make case for art

Midtown Commons design team to make case for art

The architecture team behind the major redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center will once again attempt to push its art-centric design past the finish line next week.

Lake Union Partners, which has developed The Central and East Union buildings on two other corners of 23rd and Union, plans to construct a seven-story mixed-use development that would spread about 430 residential units across three buildings on the Midtown superblock. About half of those are proposed at affordable housing levels for incomes between $28,000 and $60,000.

A third recommendation meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Garfield Community Center, 2323 E. Cherry St.

The East Design Review Board was assigned the project before the creation of a Central Area review board, but LUP invited both to take on its Midtown Commons development after residents complained last July that the EDRB lacked neighborhood representation.

Architecture firm Weinstein A+U refreshed the design for the project with increased art elements, including along most of the facades of Midtown Commons and its pedestrian portals leading to a 16,000-square-foot central plaza. The changes were informed by two community open houses LUP hosted in October and another in November.

But the East and Central review board members agreed during a second recommendation meeting in December that the design relied too heavily on art that more information about its context and function in the neighborhood was needed.

The March 13 recommendation meeting will focus primarily on the large role art will play at Midtown Commons, though the design packet submitted to Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections indicates artists attached to the development won’t likely be decided until December.

The packet is considerably smaller and focused on art integration at Midtown Commons. Unlike previous meetings, only 1 1/2 hours has been set aside to consider the proposal. The December review meeting lasted more than three hours.

Plans include connecting new art on 23rd and Union with a sculptural seating arrangement created by artist Martha Jackson Jarvis, which is located on the southeast corner of the intersection, and has forms based on West African and Native American symbols.

Late artist James Washington’s Fountain of Triumph will remain in a plaza at the corner of 24th and Union, though many residents have previously asked that it be displayed more prominently in the development. The James and Janie Washington Foundation, which is overseeing the artwork’s restoration, previously provided a letter agreeing with its proposed placement.

“The aesthetic significance of connecting life to salmon is also present across Union at 24th Avenue in the new Liberty Bank apartment complex where commissioned artist Esther Ervin has created a sculptural salmon run with rain runnels,” according to the design packet.

The design packet also expands on outreach strategies for selecting artists to work on the project, which increased from three art opportunities to eight late last year. That effort includes engaging the Historic Central Area Arts & Cultural District and the Black Heritage Society “to increase representation for historical accuracy,” and later expanding to various local organizations with connections to HCAACD, such as the Northwest African American Museum, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and Black Dance Collective.

The full Recommendation III packet can be reviewed below.

Midtown Commons REC3 by on Scribd