Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On a Pedestal


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This 40 story Seattle high rise always elicits a "wow" from visitors seeing it for the first time. In sunny months the 11 story pedestal of Rainier Tower serves as an outdoor movie screen and all through the year symbols of colorful light are projected on it at night. The architecture shows such an innovative and refreshing design idea. But tell me truthfully, would you think twice about working everyday in a west coast building shaped like this?

21 comments:

Bibi said...

Truthfully, I wouldn't like to work there. The highest building in which I ever worked (and then only for a couple of months for training) was the Brussels Hilton. A group of us got stuck in the elevator once...overload, and it was litterally stifling...and scary.

Tash said...

Always liked that building. I like your angle on this (it's usually photographed closer). No worries about working there...gotta trust my fellow structural engineers.

RE comment on the "by the people" sign - It is an add for a woman running for P.V. Est. City Council. What I took from the ad is that she doesn't think the current council acts as the residents would wish. PV is still very Republican, but most of the women in my book club are Democrats.

Laurie said...

Yes. I'd worry. But I freak out in ANY building during an earthquake!

That is a wow one, all right. Very cool photo, Kim!

Hilda said...

Whoa! Amazing! Wherever it is, I'd worry about it toppling over! :D

Steffe said...

It's the first time I see this so here we go, wow!

brattcat said...

I, too, add my Wow! Surely, it's been built to meet some very strict earthquake-safe regulations. How brilliant the architect was to create something so innovative under such restrictive codes. Your angle really shows how the base opens up the entire neighborhood.

Shelagh said...

Truthfully? - I would rather not.
As an architect, I feel that this building says to me 'enter if you dare' rather than 'enter here and be welcome.' Architectural pyrotechnics are usually aimed at ego-boosting, I think. Nevertheless it is an excellent shot.

Lois said...

I agree with Hilda, I would worry about it toppling over. It is an interesting building to admire from afar though! I like your blog!

Anonymous said...

Actually, this building is probably one of the safest in the city. It was designed by the same architect that did the WTC buildings in NYC. Underneath the building is a giant concrete caisson that weighs more that the building does, making the structure very stable. Just think of this building as a wine glass and you get the idea. Now before you go thinking that wine glasses are easy to tip over, just remember that this wine glass has it's base buried in concrete

Kim said...

Thanks for letting us know the architect, Anon. I know of him but didn't realize this was one of his buildings. Minoru Yamasaki was a Seattle native and graduated from Franklin High. He designed what is now known as the Pacific Science Center as part of the 62 World's Fair here, and if I'm remembering correctly, did not favor large expanses of windows, thus the narrow grid of columns on the exterior are somewhat of a hallmark of many of his designs, right? I don't think this was necessarily ego or architectural pyrotechnics, but a product of its time. . .think Transamerica Pyramid in SF. In the 60s and 70s geometric forms and seeing what extremes could be pushed were being explored like crazy in design (let's do the near impossible!). I think I'm remembering reading how much he loved the arch form (which certainly plays out in the PSC design and its famous arches, and maybe he was playing with that a bit when he dreamed up the shape of the pedestal here with its massive curves.
-Kim

cieldequimper said...

WOW! There, now that I've said it, where is it?

Kim said...

5th & University in Downtown Seattle.

Mountainboy said...

Heya,

Thanks for the visit.

Great shot and I can totally understand the wow!

M

Pete said...

It must be safe but to work in it everyday? Uuuummm I think I would have this strange feeling of toppling over lol. Interesting design though and different. By the way Kim I have emailed you re image sizing in reply to your post - was a bit long to put in these comments boxes :)

Cheers
Pete
www.hamilton-nz.blogspot.com

Bigfish said...

Not exactly a pedestrian-friendly building, is it? I wonder what goes on in the first 10 windowless stories?

Pete said...

Good point! - Yes I wonder what does go on in the first 10 windowless stories? The mind boggles! lol :)

Anonymous said...

Actually, the building is quite pedestrian-friendly. If you stand on a block across the street from the building and follow the building sides down to the sidewalk, you would see that the building footprint would be so large as to take up almost all of the block, leaving very little space for sidewalks. So the pedestal design allows for the building to have a larger floorplan for tenants, while at the same time opening up the ground level spaces for larger shops. Also, because of the pedestal, you don't experience large gusts of wind like you do around the rest of the buildings in downtown Seattle. And to add to Kim's comment about the look of the building, yes that design is a sort of signature look of the architect. The reason there are so many columns that are spaced so closely together is that this is a structural aspect of the building. A lot of the building's weight is being projected out onto the exterior columns, allowing for each floor to be open and have few columns, aside from the central elevator/service core in the middle of the floor plan. Minoru Yamasaki also did the IBM building that is on 5th and Seneca, east of the Olympic Hotel. You can also see a similar design in the Safeco Plaza building on 4th & Madison, but I don't think that building is by Yamasaki. If folks are interested in learning more about the architecture and history of Seattle, check out the book Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown available at Amazon and at the Seattle Library. http://www.amazon.com/Seattle-Architecture-Walking-Guide-Downtown/dp/0615141293

postie said...

I remember seeing this building on many visits to Seattle and It always wows me. I LIKE IT!

Kim said...

Thanks everyone! And thanks Anon for the great information. Hope you'll keep us posted on interesting facts like this in the future, too. And let us know who you might be, if possible. Thanks,
-Kim

my-redefinition said...

What a beautiful picture! I was hoping you would post a pic of the Rainier Tower sometime soon. ;)

I miss this place sooo much... When I lived in Seattle during 2007-2008, I actually worked in this building -- on the 25th floor. I loved it! The views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains from our conference room were always spectacular. I did get a little nervous during some of the winter wind storms, when the wind gusts would make the building sway. You couldn't necessarily feel the sway, but you could hear the creaking and groaning of the walls/windows of the building as it moved. It was built to sway in the wind, however, so that it wouldn't topple over.

As for earthquakes, (from what I was told by those who experienced the last big one), the building just feels like it is "rolling". It is supposed to be one of the safest buildings in the city, as it was built to endure a 10.0 earthquake. So don't let the look of it fool you! ;)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful shot! As a student in NYC, I've just designed a similar building and I got strong critics at my mid-term :-(. The reason behind that design was to protect the soil/ground. Also to give pedestrians a 25 stories tower, which they can pass by and not feel claustrophobic because of narrowing the width of the street with a large footprint. This strategy gave me a taller building (due to FAR restrictions)and better views of the city for the apartments.
I would like to continue this project and it would help me if you guys could tell me what do you think about this approach and if you know any other building similar with Rainier Tower.
Thanks and great thread. Felicia