Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

4 - High-Tech / Low-Tech - Synergies in Reconstructing a Seattle Landmark

Tuesday, September 25
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC- 101AH

Ford & Pacific McKay Reconstruction
In 2005, upzoning, rapid redevelopment, and traffic congestion combined to impact two adjoining Seattle landmarks - the terra cotta-clad 1922 Ford McKay and 1925 Pacific McKay auto showrooms, constructed in the final years of Model T production. The buildings were located in Seattle's burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood, amidst Amazon, and dozens of biotech and high-tech companies. Widening of the Mercer Corridor required the historic structures be removed or relocated out of the new right-of-way. The team undertook structural analysis to consider relocation or salvage, including evaluation of existing anchorages, and monitoring of pervasive cracking and settlement. It was determined the most effective means to "save" the buildings was to carefully document, disassemble, catalog, repair, and crate the character-defining pieces for reconstruction in a future development. This resulted in the 2009 salvage of these elements, including granite, nearly 2,800 units of ornate terra cotta cladding, hand-carved wood and leaded glass windows, decorative plaster, an interior terra cotta fountain, terrazzo flooring, marble wall base, and mahogany woodwork. The historic buildings are now integrated within a full block development for the Allen Institute for Brain Science, 60 feet north of their original site, and contain a new retail space and a private art gallery.

Extensive documentation included exterior and interior high density LiDAR point cloud scans, in addition to conventional measured drawings, surveyed elevations, hand sketches, hundreds of photographs, and dozens of videos. The terra cotta was meticulously removed, catalogued, and restored before being crated and stored in a warehouse, to minimize unknowns during reconstruction.

Reconstruction was a marriage of high-tech and low-tech methods to execute the final product with exacting accuracy. The team used REVIT 3D modeling software, a great advantage when detailing the complex terra cotta profiles and geometries. These details were conveyed to the masons and contractors for painstaking restoration and reinstallation by hand.

Construction technologies, and energy and seismic codes have changed in the past 80 years, and the owner wanted a durable, high-performance building, targeting LEED Gold certification. This led to a more robust and resilient skin than originally constructed to best leverage the reuse of the rich historic masonry, including a drainage plane system, high-performance exterior insulation, and seismic ties, in lieu of the traditional uninsulated wire tie-back system.

The Allen Institute, completed in late 2015, stands as a symbol of the future of technology, while the Ford and Pacific McKay buildings are a testament to their own time and the art of handcraft, renewed and upgraded for new service for at least another century. The synergy of high-tech and old-world techniques have brought these landmark buildings from the Model T era to the Tesla age, well-grounded in a changing neighborhood.

Learning Objectives:

Matt Hamel, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

SHKS Architects

Matt is a Preservation Architect from Seattle, WA with over 17 years of experience focusing on rehabilitation, restoration and assessments of local and national historic landmarks for public, non-profit, and private clients in the Pacific Northwest. He has a B.Arch and BS in Building Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His passion for preservation springs from the desire to instill stewardship and history’s resonance through sustainable, vibrant designs.


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Jonathan Spodek

Jonathan C. Spodek, FAIA, FAPT has over 30 years of experience in the architectural and preservation fields. He currently has a limited architectural practice in Indiana and serves as a Professor of Architecture at Ball State University. As a Professor in the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University, he teaches design studios and courses in building technology that include building documentation, historic building construction materials and techniques, and evaluation/diagnostic methods. Mr. Spodek’s research interests focus on non-destructive building evaluation. He has also received several research grants to develop work on using sustainable construction practices on existing/historic housing. His initiatives in academia focusing on building preservation provide a scholarly component to his professional work as an architect.


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4 - High-Tech / Low-Tech - Synergies in Reconstructing a Seattle Landmark

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