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Occidental Square play area, new pavilion open in time for Seattle summer

Construction of the new wood and glass Occidental Pavilion, designed by Olson Kundig Architects, began in June 2020.

SEATTLE — On Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was joined by a number of downtown advocates, donors, and officials at Occidental Square to reopen the Play Space and celebrate the opening of the new Occidental Pavilion.

The openings come as Seattle, along with the rest of the state, continues to reopen and come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new 90-foot-wide wood and glass pavilion replaced a kiosk at the south end of the square. It brings with it a larger information and concierge center to enhance park activities and welcome visitors.

The play area is reopening after being closed more than a year due to the pandemic. Completed in October 2019, just three months before the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed in Washington, the space features climbing equipment partially enclosed by a timber bench.

The revitalization effort for the square began in 2014 when the Seattle Parks Foundation hired Dan Biederman, who had worked to revitalize New York City’s Bryant Park, to help turn the space into a better gathering place and make the area more vibrant.

According to the city, the work subsequent popularity of the park that followed Biederman’s analysis attracted significant financial and fundraising support from various partners including the Seattle Parks Foundation and the Downtown Seattle Association, which have privately funded the pavilion and play area respectively.

On Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, the Downtown Seattle Association plans to hold family friendly games, music and giveaways to welcome visitors back to the Occidental Play Space and Pavilion.