Community Post

Orange you gonna’ look?

What do you think about this blast of orange on 23rd and Dearborn? (next to the Parnell’s, kinda Central District/Rainier area/judkins)

Don’t pretend like you haven’t seen it. I can’t get it outta my mind…
It makes me think of color theory class, the psychological color-effects on human behavior. I guess the future will tell if it holds any relevancy here.

0 thoughts on “Orange you gonna’ look?

  1. I wonder why and who designed this. Was there a review of this? Did anyone comment? Did anyone care? Did the architect care?

  2. It will be interesting to see how it changes when the weather turns grey again. It will be a landmark whether famous or infamous.

  3. The Alexander Calder “Eagle” sculpture in the sculpture park is also large, orange and highly regarded.

    It reminds me of an aphorism that a former girlfriend, an art student, told me she learned: “If you can’t make it good, make it big and paint it orange.”

  4. But Pb Elemental designed it.
    There is a good post over at weeasssuburb (formerly hugeasscity) concerning this building.
    Check it out…

  5. I kinda like the orange – why be beige? The disconcerting thing to me is that as you approach from the south on 23rd, the mini-mart’s old sign looks as if it’s attached to the new orange wall. I like that as well – gives it an artsy look.

  6. I like it too. When the Space Needle first opened in 1962, the top of it was bright orange, and against the blue sky – spectacular!

    It also matches the cranes down on the waterfront. Seattle needs all the brightness it can get from October to May!

  7. I’m a big fan of Pb Elementals work. I wish I could see a floorplan of the commercial space, as well as leasing fees. If I were going to start my own business, this would be a neat building to start in.

  8. I used to live a few blocks away from Parnells (the quicky-mart that is adjacent to this building). I don’t know how Parnell’s is doing now, but back when I lived in that neighborhood, Parnell’s was very sketchy: lots of drug dealing and muggings. The bus stop for the #48 outside always smelled of urine.

    The lot was an empty grass field for a very long time. I always assumed that some boring, easy-to-forget townhomes would be erected on the site, and that no-one would be interested in them, on account of the relatively shady intersection.

    what’s most interesting about this project is how the architects decided to deal with this problem: by placing a big wall where they did, completely blocking the inhabitant’s line of sight to Parnell’s. They probably knew this would be ugly, so they painted it orange! The wall isn’t an affront to Parnell’s, it’s just a way to make everyone happy. Some might say that this is out of context with the rest of the neighborhood. I disagree. I predict that a few months after completion, we’ll have a hard time deciding which building is out of context: Some people will say that Parnell’s is, and others will argue on behalf of the big orange wall. The project turns my pre-conceptions upside down. The contrast between the two makes me all warm and fuzzy inside and it makes me ponder the diversity in our world.

  9. Parnell’s hasn’t changed. Increased scrutiny at this intersection, if only because of a big orange wall, can only help. Think of it as a backdrop saying, “You are on stage, in front of an audience.” Maybe I’m dreaming.

  10. I wish we could paint the corner of 21st/Union orange for some additional scrutiny.


  11. If u like the orange you’ll love it even more, if u dislike the orange you’ll hate it….

  12. We can always count on you to pooh pooh everything. Travel the world a little bit and see whats going on outside of 22nd and Union and you may find that all of your opinions are backwards.

  13. The CD isn’t all craftman or brick. There is a lot that is sparer. Infill can either be unique or it can be a bad fake imitation of the older buildings that we want to see preserved. I actually appreciate the modernity and whimisicalneaa and interest on the street.

  14. Scottt, my main concern is the name calling, (naysayer)? If my comments were harsh, I apologize. I would totally respect your telling me that you liked it without categorizing me.

    Actually, I like much of Pb Elemental’s other work and did not realize that this was theirs when I wrote my original blog. I certainly have no objection to the plan between 20th and 21st on East Union and don’t recall ever having anything but positive comments on that.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I note that my eye has been out voted by a few here. I have supported almost all new buildings here. (I did feel that we should have at least gotten Jim Mueller to help fix the fountain in the plaza or some type of public benefit in exchange for the rezone. That is now in the past and I totally want the project at 23rd and Union to be a success.) I cannot at the moment think of any other new project that I opposed.

    My comment here had little to do with the craftsman or brick issues here. I’m not sure that Dearborn is officially in the CD and it is certainly a different environment from Union Street. I would not like this next door to me, luckily it isn’t. I guess I’m just a gray sky type. Grey days give me peace. When I first moved to Seattle, I didn’t know how I was going to survive without the sun. Now too much sun makes it difficult to concentrate. I need a few gray days.

    I have traveled to the UW Gnome building and find that to be attractive. I like several of the new architect type homes on the west side of 19th, north of Union and south of Madison. I will admit that so far I have not warmed up to many of the bright-colored, industrial buildings on First Avenue, in North Bell Town and would not be crazy for that type of architecture to invade East Union.

    One day maybe I’ll be fonder of the windowless, orange wall, depending on what goes up next to it, and if I don’t, there is enough space between me and the wall, that it won’t make a big difference. I’m sure eventually something new will be next to it. I believe myself to be a fairly positive person, open to new ideas and yes, sometimes set in my ways. Aren’t we all.

  15. Just to be clear – the comment above was from “scottt” (3 t’s, an anonymous commenter ), not from me “scott” (two t’s, editor on the site). I give Joanna kudos for keeping an eye out for the benefit of the overall community on projects like 23rd & Union, even though I disagree with her on that specific project.

    And personally, I’m on the fence about the orange wall – i’m reserving judgement until the project finishes up and I can spend some more time with it.

  16. My wife and I love the orange wall. Our usual angle on it is walking north on 24th, or west on Dearborn, and the wall lights up the skyline. We think it’s going to be wonderful as we move back into the gray days (which seems to be happening already.) But, I actually think it’s going to draw attention away from the open air drug mart in Parnells lot, because it draws the eye up from street level. I’m wondering how they’re going to protect the concrete bottom of the wall from graffiti?

    PS: If you have to log-in before you can post a comment the site might want to include a warning to that effect. If you write a comment, get the log-in notice, leave the comment to log in, you loose the comment. I was savvy enough to copy just in case, but that’s not the intuitive reaction. Just a thought.

  17. Your P.S. – usually you don’t have to log in. The site was doing something weird last night, and I suddenly had to also. Scott?

  18. Orange is a pretty good antidote to anything! Just ask Calder’s Eagle who’s happy even when the sky is as dark as slate. In other words, this Emerald City could use a lot more couleur.

    The actual aphorism for would-be artistes is: “If you can’t do it good, do it big. If you can’t do it big, do it RED.

  19. Ten more of the same in a row would be ugly and redundant. I think all the points are good, just mean that each building should be looked at in situ, and good architects do that.

    I’d take samll and red before big and bad!

  20. I’m wondering if the blank wall on the south side is required by the Land Use Code. Could it be on or very near to the property line and required to not have any windows out of consideration for the future development adjacent to it on the south?

  21. Excepting Jeff Koons, of course, who can do whatever he likes: big, red, shiny, and shameless. ;-)

  22. Hey Joanna, your wondering about the status of Dearborn in the “Central Distric” got me quickly searching for city maps. The first two I’ve found (yes, each says “Central Area”) include Dearborn:

    And this tool also includes Dearborn (see the area marked “Central”):

    Anybody got better information? I’ve always thought Judkins Park was part of the CD. Am I wrong?

  23. I heard through the grapevine that Pb is hiring a local artist to do a large mural on the concrete wall under the orange paneling. I really like the project and direction the firm is taking on these small in-fill locations. Personally it is nice to see some vibrant color in the neighborhood.

  24. When I first moved here, Judkins did not consider itself to be the Central Area, maybe now. Jackson was typically the southern boundary. Even now, despite the fact that the maps you present from the city that mark Madrona as being located in the Central part of the city for planning, few Madrona residents or real estate people would offer up the the Central Area or Central District as their neighborhood.

    The CD seemed to originally refer to boundaries that defined where African Americans could own homes before the fair housing acts and certainly has been evolving. The desire not to be identified as in the Central District or Area has been a subject of satire on recent CD News blogs. See posts regarding development and the triangle near Madison. I have no preference, as long as we love our neighborhood. My understanding is that Madrona has recently redefined boundaries.

    The City sometimes defines us as part of the greater downtown–whatever that means. The Capital Hill Design Review Team is the Design Review Team that covers most of the Central Area. Maybe we should define us rather than others.
    From Wikipedia:
    “The Central District is a mostly residential district in Seattle located east of Cherry Hill, west of Madrona and Leschi, south of Capitol Hill, and north of Rainier Valley.”

    I’m also surprised to notice that one of the maps you found actually defines a portion of Seattle South of the Ship Canal as being in Northeast Seattle. Obviously many different perceptions exist.

  25. I see my URL for the most interesting of the maps was slightly off. Go here:

    and then scroll down to the “Neighborhood Plan Area Map” PDF, which might be of particular interest to you, Joanna. There’s a “23rd & Union – Jackson” area, which happens to include 23rd & Dearborn.

    Sure, Central Area isn’t Central District in the city’s eyes, but does anybody have actually good information?

    A Judkinsian since ’97 who has always said “Southern CD” when elaborating,

  26. Freakily, twice now the ending slash/slant/solidus has been dropped from the URL via posting, and without it you get nowhere. So, make sure it’s “…/npi/maps/Central/”.

  27. Joanna,

    You are right on the zoning code requiring there to be no windows or doors on the south facade because it is built to the lot line. Pb has chosen to open their units to the street and to the lot to the north. Opening to the north not only compliments and incorporates the residential buildings on that side, it will also afford the new residents of Pb’s buildings a privacy and noise shield from both the intersection and Parnell’s lot.

    The NC zone which this is in requires a minimum setback of 5′ from the side lot line if windows, doors, or balconies are incorporated into the facade facing another NC zoned lot (Parnell’s). The lot to the north is an L2 zone, or as we all know it “townhouse”.

    I applaud Pb’s use of their almost internally trademarked shade of orange (they seem to almost worship this color among themselves) to spice up this required blank wall. Would we rather it be left as a drab concrete gray? To me it presents a cheerful palate against an otherwise gloomy corner.

    I also commend Pb’s continued embrace of intersections or neighborhoods that other developers would turn a wary eye to (see Pb’s upcoming wealth of developments in South Park).

  28. I live near Parnells now and despise all of the blatant drug dealing going on in broad daylight. I have no idea how this is allowed to continue by the police, they need to shut this mini mart down or regulate it.

    I know this is how some people make a living but they need to do it somewhere else, far away from where I live.