Go inside the  billion expansion of the Seattle Convention Center, which is seen as a big boost for downtown – GeekWire

Go inside the $2 billion expansion of the Seattle Convention Center, which is seen as a big boost for downtown – GeekWire

Inside the new Seattle Convention Center Summit addition on Pine Street in downtown Seattle, looking over the Hillclimb stairs, across I-5 to the city. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

The sparkling new addition to the Seattle Convention Center is a $2 billion statement piece in the downtown Seattle landscape. Now state and local leaders hope the massive new building can help attract more activity to the heart of a city battered by the pandemic.

“We are on the rebound. We are coming back from COVID,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday. “We just want people.”

The main goal of the new Summit building is to get people to Seattle and back downtown, which took years of planning and another five years — and a time of great health and economic crisis — to build.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently met with other city leaders in an effort to exchange ideas on reimagining downtown business districts. which hybrid work policies and safety concerns have interfered with in the midst of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Harrell called himself “bullish on downtown.” While praising the views of the city from all sides of the new facility, he said, “That’s what it’s going to take to get this city back, looking at it from a new angle.”

The Summit building occupies a huge city block not far from the original Convention Center building. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

The 14-story Summit grew out of a pit under Pine Street that was formerly home to the Convention Place bus station. Billed as the first high-rise convention center in North America, the addition above Interstate 5 nearly doubles the capacity of the Seattle Convention Center and the original Arch building, a block and a half away.

The numbers are enough to set any smart pedometer in high gear:

  • 573,770 square feet of event space
  • 62 meeting rooms
  • 58,000 square feet of column free and divisible ballroom
  • 248,450 square feet of exhibition space
  • 140,700 square feet of naturally lit lobby space
  • Outdoor Garden Terrace 14,000 square feet

But beyond the spacious rooms and meeting spaces, Summit strikes an attractive steel, wood and glass pose on the massive block between Pine Street, Olive Way, Boren and Ninth avenues. The modern building stands in stark contrast to the historic Paramount Theater across Pine. At the top of a wooden staircase called Hillclimb that seems to climb the length and height of the building, there are views of Capitol Hill, First Hill, South Lake Union and all the way down to Pike Place Market and Elliott Bay.

Thousands of wooden planks were suspended from the ceiling in a ballroom at the top of the Breameacht. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
An extensive wooden chandelier in the main lobby of the Chamber. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

Reclaimed wood is everywhere, thanks to the folks at Seattle’s LMN Architects. The main lobby features 45 panels on an expansive plywood chandelier with CNC cutouts of microscopic cell structures of 12 different tree species in the region. Upstairs in the main ballroom the size of a football field, 3,900 “mormon” boards hang from the 65-foot-high ceiling, cut from decommissioned beams.

Seattle’s unique connection to the Pacific Northwest includes large numerical indicators for the floor levels that pay tribute to the region’s diverse industries and culture. Number 2 on the second floor is full of ropes for the maritime industry; rivets are in another number for the aerospace industry; and on the fourth floor, cassette tapes from the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Sir Mix-a-Lot fill a large volume 4.

The Conference Center has a range of sustainability features and environmentally friendly design elements. These include plant-based acoustic ceiling tiles; bio-based fabric panels; low-flow plumbing; electric vehicle charging stations; solar panels on the roof; rainwater harvesting system; radiant floors; water bottle filling stations; and a variety of green kitchen and food endeavors.

South-east corner of the Breatimeacht building on Pine Street. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

Jon Scholes, President and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, called the opening of the building a big win for downtown.

“Seattle has won the lottery,” Scholes said. “But this was not luck, this is the result of great work by local companies and workers who created a building that will bring hundreds of thousands of additional people to the city every year. This will mean millions in new spending and tax revenue, fueling the continued recovery of downtown.

According to the DSA’s latest recovery statistics, almost 2.2 million visitors came to the town center in December, an increase of more than 8% compared to December 2021, but below the 2.7 million visitors in December 2019 before the pandemic.

“A lot of other cities show their convention centers on the edge of town,” Scholes said. “In Seattle, we bring those big projects to the heart of the city that create more vibrancy for downtown.”

A large floor level indicator is filled with cassette tapes from Northwest artists. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

The goal now is to attract conventions and visitors. The Convention Center says the Summit currently has 58 events booked and another eight using the Arch and the Summit.

Seattle real estate company Redfin already had about 1,000 people present at an annual company meeting called Redferno on January 13. The company used Summit as a conference/meeting space with keynote sessions for all attendees in one larger room and a separate suite. meetings and discussions in smaller rooms.

Emerald City Comic Con is celebrating its 20th anniversary when it returns to the Convention Center March 2-5 and is excited to be moving to the Summit. Kristina Rogers, vice president of show producer ReedPop, calls Seattle her hometown and during a walk last August she was impressed by the sensory/quiet rooms and all-gender bathrooms.

“We strive for inclusiveness in all areas of ECCC and it’s those little things that really make this new building feel like it was built with us in mind,” she said in an emailed statement. “Our entire team is excited and proud to welcome our fans home to this new space.”

The Northwest Anime Convention Sakura-Con is also using Summit, April 7-9.

Microsoft held its annual Ignite developer conference at the Convention Center’s Arch facility in October. The company would not say whether it planned to move Ignite or any other meeting to Summit in 2023.

The historic Paramount Theatre, left, as seen from the Auditorium building. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

Aaron Bludworth is the president and CEO of Fern, a company that produces a wide variety of trade shows and conventions across the U.S. With roughly 1,400 shows a year, Bludworth said he’s been to every major convention center dozens of times and probably some of them were. hundreds of times.

Standing outside the Summit on Wednesday, he was struck by the unique, multi-level design, materials and views.

“The beauty of the facility is pretty unparalleled,” said Bludworth, who is based in Cincinnati. He believes that while all major cities have faced challenges, buildings like the Seattle Convention Center help the revitalization and overcome those challenges.

“We will be partnering with destinations everywhere,” Bludworth said. “But there’s no doubt that when people see this building, they’re going to want to come.”

The Seattle Convention Center is hosting a public open house at the Summit on Friday from 1 to 6 pm

Keep scrolling for more GeekWire images:

The Summit has an extremely tall and light-filled atrium. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
Outdoor gathering space at the Garden Terrace at the Summit. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
Looking back from the Prime Minister’s building with views of Elliott Bay. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
Carpet for days: A large expo hall in the Breatimecht building. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee addressed the attendees at the opening ceremony at the Summit on Wednesday. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
The Hillclimb wooden staircase inside the Summit. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)
The west side of the Breameacht building. (GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

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