Seattle waterfront redesign moves ahead with presentation of ideas

May 19, 2011

Soon, the public will have an opportunity to see some initial ideas for what Seattle’s waterfront could look like after the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down. The city plans to redevelop 26 blocks along Elliott Bay between King Street and Broad Street.

Designers from James Corner Field Operations will present preliminary concepts and ask for input tonight at Bell Harbor Conference Center on Pier 66.  

When the first images of what designers are imagining for the waterfront flash across the screen, people could see some very different options for what exists today. Steve Pierce, waterfront project manager for the city, says he thinks the redesign could completely transform the city.

"It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape the downtown Seattle waterfront, to reconnect the city with the bay, and reclaim our waterfront as a public asset."

Right now, he says the design team has at least four or five different ways to accomplish that. The concepts incorporate suggestions gathered at a public kickoff of the project in February, including:

  • More opportunities for views of the bay
  • Better access to the water 
  • Steps to sit on
  • Beaches
  • A public promenade
  • Spaces to bring back concerts like the Summer Nights at the Pier series 

The city is also pushing for a seamless pedestrian path from Pike Place Market to the waterfront. Pierce insists it’s not just for tourists. He says residents are adamant the waterfront should be a place where locals want to come and hang out. 

How much designers will able to change the character of the waterfront isn’t clear, though. Most of the pier buildings are eligible for protection as historic landmarks, so they could still block views. The tourist-focused businesses inside them probably aren't going anywhere either.

The city expects to have a concept design completed by the middle of 2012. The viaduct is scheduled for demolition in 2016.

Event Details:

Date: May 19, 2011

Location: Bell Harbor Conference Center – Elliott Hall, 2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, Seattle


5:00 - 6:30 p.m.: Food and music for purchase from local food vendors including Maximus/Minimus, Street Treets and Where Ya At Matt.

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Event begins with a presentation from designer James Corner then continues with a Q & A and opportunities to share ideas.

Additional Details: The event is free and open to the public. It will also be available via live streaming from the Seattle Channel.