Crystal Palace or Legoland for new Pioneer Square development?



Posted on December 7, 2011 at 7:17 PM

SEATTLE -- Pioneer Square is the historic heart of Seattle. The old days ooze from every edifice.

"It's definitely old world," says one woman making her way to an appointment.

"Brick and mortar is not what people do anymore.  All you see is steel and glass," says musician Thomas Starks. 

But steel and glass are what's on the way. The new "Stadium Place" development is now being built in Pioneer Square in the north parking lot of the Seahawks' Stadium. It's 25 shiny stories that will be one of the most unique buildings in the state. The defining points are several two-to-four-story sections of the building that are stacked askew, kind of like 50-foot Jenga blocks.

But does it fit with the Square's red brick and turn of the 20th century charm?

Some Seattle natives say the design definitely evokes images of yesteryear...but the 1980's -- not the 1880's.

"When I was a kid, I had an erector set," says Clint Hooper. "It looks like they took the erector set and moved it downtown!"

"It doesn't fit in at all," says his friend as they look over an artist's renderings of the project. "The architecture of all these older buildings, it's beautiful. This looks like Star Wars."

The developers of the project are locals with roots running all the way back to the building of the Space Needle. They sit on historical preservation trusts and have a deep love of the neighborhood. They say Pioneer Square need only look over its shoulder for a reminder of what wasn't so popular years ago.

"When they built the Smith Tower, and even the Space Needle, people had negative things to say," says real estate developer Kevin Daniels, who is working on the project. He believes the design will bridge the span between the Pioneer Square of old and that of the future.

Daniels says the "pedestal" that the tower will sit on will be stone or brick, blending the building into its surroundings. The rest, he says, will be a "crystal palace." "This will be an architectural statement for the city." He is certain Stadium Place will win its spot in the city's architectural heart. "We're expecting some push back. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. But we're confident that we're going to bring a great piece of architecture to Seattle."

Developers met with members of the Pioneer Square Preservation Board on Wednesday to discuss how to best blend the design with the surroundings.The tower is expected to be complete by March of 2014.

You can see the plans by visiting