Pike Place Market is the oldest farmers market in the country and Seattle’s most popular destination. More than a marketplace, it’s the center of an enduring focus on local products and social equity, a dense and varied urban neighborhood that’s home to many office tenants, social service agencies and hundreds of residential occupants at all income levels.
9 acres; 10 million visitors annually
Associated General Contractors of Washington, Build Washington Awards, 2013
Project of the Month, Seattle DJC and AIA Seattle, 2014
In the early 1970s, a vote by the people of Seattle famously rescued the Market from demolition—saving it in all its funky glory. Forty years later, time had taken its toll. Basic infrastructure was failing and the nine-acre campus had fallen well behind standards for safety, accessibility and environmental stewardship. Echoing earlier sentiments, the citizens of Seattle again rallied to support their treasured landmark. In 2008, they overwhelmingly approved funds for a full-scale renovation.
For the architects, this meant becoming intimately acquainted with the Market’s labyrinthine systems above and below ground, and devising a process to prioritize, place and sequence the incredibly detailed and interconnected work.
Collaborating closely with consultants and the contractor, a key objective was to enable the Market’s trademark chaos to be more functional—carefully observing historic preservation requirements, but also weaving in the means to accommodate future change. In this highly public setting, driving public consensus became another essential strategy.
Completed in 2012, the renovation preserves the beloved character of the campus while giving the buildings comprehensive upgrades that achieve full compliance with today’s codes and standards. True to the Market’s historic preservation guidelines, all the work was executed in simple, durable, materials that showcase activities rather than architecture. Purposely simple and contemporary, the details express this generation’s everyday engagement with and heartfelt commitment to the Market’s second century.
Significant systems improvements are combined with greatly enhanced accessibility and convenience to create a more welcoming experience. New elevators and stairs tactically help visitors to negotiate the eight levels of public space that meander through the Market’s buildings. The public restrooms, expanded and improved, now include two new generous sets of “comfort stations” nestled into the busy retail areas with custom, graphic signage that communicates in any language.
Integrated thinking from the entire team helped transform the Market into a fully functioning eco-district. Prior to renovation, tenants had managed their own heating, cooling and refrigeration systems with mixed success. A central system replaced the inefficiency, exchanging energy through the campus condenser water loop as needed with close metering of all utilities.