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  • Ellen Mirro

Preservation Teamwork in Pioneer Square

We were recently part of a team for an adaptive reuse project in Pioneer Square, for which we served as historic resources- and preservation consultants. The aim of adaptive reuse is to repurpose an old building or site as an alternative to demolition and new construction.

This year Hudson Pacific Properties (HPP) will complete an ambitious redevelopment and historic preservation of the 95 So. Jackson Building located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. Project scope included structural upgrades to the unreinforced masonry construction, a full seismic upgrade, all-new building infrastructure (including mechanical, electrical, life safety, energy management and vertical transportation systems), and finally preservation and restoration of the building’s historic exterior façade.

95 So. Jackson was constructed in 1909 as a warehouse facility for the Schwabacher Hardware Company, a major regional supplier of hardware and building materials at the turn of the century. Located immediately adjacent to what was then known as Railroad Avenue in Seattle (now known as Alaskan Way), the building’s original northern, southern and western facades were punctuated by multiple one and two-story openings. These served as warehouse loading bays, allowing for the efficient transfer of heavy materials between rail cars and the interior of the building, as well as serving as shipping bays for retail distribution.

Original 1909 drawing by Saunders & Lawton

The building was originally designed by Saunders & Lawton, a prolific architectural partnership active in Seattle between 1898 and 1915. The original builder was H.D. Stewart, a prominent local builder both before and after the Great Seattle Fire. The building operated as a warehouse facility for more than 71 years until 1980, when the R. D. Merrill Company purchased the building and converted it as part of the Merrill Place development. Since the Merrill conversion, portions of the building served various functions including retail, general office, a performance venue and a U.S. Postal Service distribution facility, until HPP acquired the property in 2014.

95 So. Jackson is an excellent example of early 20th century mill construction and was one of the original “working buildings” on Seattle’s young industrial waterfront. It represents the extensive contributions made by the Schwabacher Hardware Company as a critical resource to the city during a period of rapid expansion, and further serves to define the early development of Seattle’s historic working waterfront. The design of the building exemplifies the work of Saunders & Lawton, whose notable contributions to the development of Seattle also include the Dunn Tin Storage Warehouse (now the Old Spaghetti Factory), the McKesson & Roberts Warehouse (now FX McRorys) and the Westland and Polson Buildings.

1937 tax assessor photograph

Over the years, and especially in the 1980s, most of the fenestration of the original warehouse design was dramatically altered on the primary façades of the building: many doors, windows and loading bays were obscured by non-original infill. The proximity of the Alaskan Way viaduct caused some damage in 1983, when a bus ran into the building.

The building in 2015

During construction 2018

The Team included:

Owner- Hudson Pacific

Architect – Burgess Design

Preservation- The Johnson Partnership

Construction – Turner

Rendering of final adaptive re-use design by Burgess Architects

The strategy for rehabilitation was to strip away all of the non-original in-fill to reveal the original composition of the 1909 design, embracing the original transparency of the large loading bays. Consistent with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation, existing historic elements of the building were retained and rehabilitated, while new interventions were differentiated through the thoughtful use of modern materials and modulation. Existing historic details–including windows, industrial coiling door headers, steel corner guards, riveted steel lintels and original “coal chute” clerestory hopper windows–were preserved in place, and served as inspiration for new design elements on the western and northern façades. Modern glazing without visible muntins was utilized to mimic the light and transparency of the original loading bays, and salvaged brick and timbers have been repurposed throughout the building. The original submittal for the proposed project design received unanimous approval from the Pioneer Square Preservation Board.

Our role consisted of assisting with administration to obtain the Certificate of Approval (COA) from the Pioneer Square Preservation Board, obtaining secondary COA for HVAC systems not covered in the original submittal, and advise on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.

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