One beautiful Seattle day, I looked up and was hypnotized by the pointy triangle on top of the Smith Tower. I contacted the Samis Foundation (owners) about taking a look at the upper floors of their massive inventory of downtown buildings and warehouses for a long term lease….but it was the belfry of the Smith Tower that I was clamoring after. A year went by negotiating for the lighthouse, transforming the Smith Tower into a multi-use bldg and navigating Seattle’s occupancy regulations. I doubt this project would have been successful, if it wasn’t for the creativity of Sally Patterson, Jim Castanes, Dale Chihuly and William Justen…. to name just a few. Nor could it have happened without the neighborhood. Many jumped in to help… reminded me a bit of the communal transformation behind Clingstone.
I had no idea when moving in just how marvelous Pioneer Square would be. It is a unique community of intelligent, fun, authentic and visionary people. Children are warmly welcomed into galleries, stores, restaurants and the rich fabric of this diverse neighborhood has turned out to be a wonderful place to raise a family.
There was a white light at the top of the pyramid when I first moved in. The lease states that the tenant is to change the lightbulbs when they burn out. Somehow, I saw that as a license to also change the color. One day, I opted for an ultra-marine bulb. The neighborhood was up in arms and alerted the Seattle Historic Society. Then a keen young intern at the Samis Foundation, Jack Almo, who happened to be writing an essay on the fiscal history of the Smith Tower, stumbled upon a story about the buildings inauguration festivities back in 1914. Turns out that the Smith Tower first opened its doors with multi-colored lights shining from the globe. That established a history of colorful beams coming from the lighthouse to celebrate various holidays and the historic society and neighborhood group allowed my blue beacon to stay. Thank you Jack!
View west from a living room window. Originally there were one or two horizontal bars (as you see above) across the windows and when I was pregnant with Simone, both David and I decided to install bars and gates throughout the house to abate our intense nightmares. The place is now a fortress.
Our curious babies could bang on the bars as much as they wanted and be safe. This is looking West to Elliot Bay from the bedroom window. You can see the tug boats leading three tankers out to the sound. The little boat is the water taxi to West Seattle that leaves from Pier 55.
Glad the sink was a large one as it soon became the post dinner “wipe down” spot for Simone and Naomi. These two girls channel …the pursuit of happiness …and often go from one body of water to the next. There is a large tub on the lower level squeezed into a southwest facing alcove that faces Mount Rainer. The tub is a pool (with a great view) for these two pumpkins.
Looking up at the front facade from the street. A few pieces of terra cotta fell during the 6.8 Nisqually earthquake in 2001. Not one thing even fell off a shelf in the apartment. In my office on the 32nd floor (the neck of the Smith Tower) big chunks of plaster toppled onto my desk. The building as a whole did remarkably well. The post earthquake proofing has lightened the building and made it even more flexible. Surely there will be another one.
Seasick? Even after 13 years, I feel dizzy looking down from the globe to the “eye lids” of the gothic windows and the busy streets below. Below is the corner where 2nd Ave and James street meet and which is where Pioneer Square begins.
I was inspired by the bookshelves Dale Chihuly built in the lavatories off the Pendleton room at the Boathouse (his home and studio) and ended up making my own set of bookshelves with a polymer edging I found at home depot. What I like is how this showcases the covers of the books rather than just the spines.In the Chihuly Hotshop urinal, Dale installed two buck heads with massive racks. Though taxidermy might offend some, I so want to also co-opt that idea …sans the urinal.The books here are from a box of paperback books I was reading in New York City in 1984. It is a snapshot of the early eighties. It speaks to what was important then. Janet Malcolm, Joan Didion, Flaubert, James Baldwin, Voltaire, Graham Greene, Richard Brautigan, Peter Matthiessen, Oscar Wilde, Kant, Aldous Huxley, Henry Miller, Thomas Berger, Dashiell Hammett, Virginia Wolfe, Jean Cocteau… There are a few new additions, Cold Snap by Thom Jones, a little hard-cover red book on the right hand side, True Patriot by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer and “Don’t Think of an Elephant” by George Lakoff. (See “Evening with Lakoff” post.)
The rug came from Jordan in 1999. The black chairs are said to be 300 to 400 years old. They were in pieces when I found them. Some glue, cushions and a coat of paint brought them back to life.
This is from the annual “Rational Evening.” Each guest brings a fact, statistic or novel view that has changed the way they see a particular issue. We go around the room. Peeled over one moment and in tears the next. En masse it becomes an adhoc symposium on the issues that are relevant to our friends today on that particular day.
Friends arrive and depart by an elevator in the Chinese Room. Pictured here is Fred, Ben, Margit, David and me. Ben and Margit Rankin are Simone and Naomi’s godparents along with William Justen. Can’t have too many godparents! Any other takers?
Simone cycling in the lobby on a rainy day when the Chinese room deck and the roof of the parking garage across the street are too wet. Security guards, Alex and Adam with bikes in the background are ready for their wet commutes home. Seattle bikes.
Looking South toward the stadiums at dawn, you can see the result of the six story limit. North of the tower is the tall and skinny zoning so when you see the city from the ferry, The Smith Tower and The Space Needle appear as bookends for the downtown buildings.
The city at the end of the day is one big sculpture park.