In gray Seattle, sometimes you have to find light within. Specifically, inside the 29-story 520 Olson Kundig refreshed for Tishman Speyer’s 1,000 workplace tenants. “Creating a light-filled space drove every decision we made,” says Kirsten Murray, FAIA, a principal and owner of Olson Kundig.
The first clue can be found, appropriately enough, at the entrance. It is announced by a white steel canopy that shines in stark relief against a stacked bond pattern of Shanxi Black Granite cladding, accessorized with Brombal stainless steel doors and storefront, and bog oak custom door pulls.
Inside, walls are clad in five different sizes of solid poplar panels, installed in varying patterns by the local manufacturer, WW Wells Millwork. Seating pays homage to the mountains and forests beyond the city limits, capturing the natural beauty of the Northwest. “I like the degree of subtle textures we were able to explore—glass, wood grains, stone veining—within what is a monochromatic color palette,” Murray says. As usual, Olson Kundig is full of bright ideas.
Great Rooms have long since waned on the home front. But the unfettered floorplans that reached ubiquity in the ‘90s have resurfaced, this time in the corporate sphere, with the residential-hospitality crossbreed of Urban Union, Schnitzer West’s office tower in the tech-booming South Lake Union neighborhood.
“We minimized columns and window mullions to create a transparent volume,” says BAMO principal Michael Booth. “Then, we focused on a few big ideas.”
The bravado begins even before stepping in: a cubic archway, commissioned from London architectural glass artist Kate Maestri, its blue gradient panels suggesting next-generation stained glass. “It’s a deliberately crisp, jewel-like contrast to the organic free-for-all inside,” says Booth. Stone floors lead to a tranquil reflecting pool adjoined by hefty rocks, some for sitting, sourced from basalt columns in Moses Lake, Washington.
Serenity turns to spectacle in the origami-like wall treatment, first developed through sketches and folded-paper maquettes, then refined in 3D modeling. Unstained layers of American white oak, reclaimed from a trestle bridge in Missouri, soar above the setting, ultimately spilling across the floor beneath a cozy waiting area, complete with double-sided fireplace. While the welcoming gesture is convivial, the purpose is pragmatic: giving tenants a competitive edge, though design, and attracting other likeminded companies. Did we mention Amazon moves in next year?