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City of Seattle

December 15, 11:30 AM click here to comment > 16

Mayor McGinn announces future uses for Seattle Center

Mayor Mike McGinn announced today his proposal for future uses of Seattle Center. The proposal includes:

  • space for radio station KEXP,
  • A Dale Chihuly exhibition,
  • a new children’s playground,
  • commitment to create a north Fun Forest site green open space, and
  • steps to move the new Memorial Stadium project forward.

The Mayor today proposed that KEXP make its new home in the Center’s Northwest Rooms, at First Avenue and Republican Street; the Chihuly Exhibition occupy the Fun Forest site, next to the Space Needle; and the new public playground be developed south of Memorial Stadium. The Chihuly Exhibition, produced jointly by the Space Needle Corporation and Chihuly Studio, will also provide $2 million in funding to seed creation of this family-focused play area on campus.

“We’ve listened, and we’ve worked hard to bring forward a set of proposals to make Seattle Center more vibrant, more kid-friendly, and more financially stable,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “I’m impressed by the commitment to community of everyone involved.”

The announcement marked the culmination of a months-long process of considering proposals for new development on the campus.

“This solution offers much more than we expected to achieve when we began this process,” said Bill Block, Seattle Center Advisory Commission chair and member of the Century 21 Committee appointed to consider changes to Center campus. “Throughout the process of considering proposals, we have been inspired by the outpouring of interest from the public. It is clear that our community values Seattle Center and cares deeply about its future.”

“The story worth telling is how the selection process opened up,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “As a result, it is a creative recommendation that integrates open space for kids, cultural attractions with art and music, and increased public opportunity. This public-private partnership is a success for our city and it’s one that will help define the future of Seattle Center.”

KEXP and the Chihuly Exhibition will support the long-term vision of the Seattle Center. KEXP’s vision for the Northwest Rooms would transform the building with glass walls that give people a clear view of DJs and artists. A gallery would invite people in to watch in-studio performances and an adjacent outdoor stage would present hundreds of free performances every year. The newly imagined space would also connect to Lower Queen Anne, stimulating economic development in the neighborhood. New and expanded partnerships are already in motion between KEXP and Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Public Library, EMP, Seattle Channel and the University of Washington.

The Chihuly Exhibition, which involves no public funds for construction or operation, will generate $10 million over the life of the lease, not including taxes to the City. The lease is for up to 20 years. It will create 225 new jobs, and involve partnerships with Pratt Fine Arts Center, Pilchuck School, ArtsFund and Seattle Public Schools.

The announcement today has several commitments to support open space at the Seattle Center. They include:

  • $1 million from the Wright family for a new public playground,
  • $1 million, also from the Wright family, over 20 years to support the playground,
  • A new task force to guide development of the north Fun Forest and Memorial Stadium. The task force will include the Seattle Center Foundation, 4Culture and a capital campaign led by Jeff Wright,
  • An open, competitive process to design and develop the north Fun Forest as open space along the lines of the vision put forward by Open Platform,
  • Moving forward on the vision for the new Memorial Stadium, including removal of the southern wall, and
  • an overall $10 million capital campaign commitment to improve open spaces in the Fun Forest area and where it integrates with Memorial Stadium.

Mayor McGinn’s proposal now goes to City Council for final approval.

Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from Christine Awad Schmalz
Time December 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

This is such a great plan! It will will bring international appeal for tourism in Seattle.
This will be on my top field trip list for my art students when it is completed!

Comment from Michael Raven
Time December 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

Why Not Include a Hotshop ????

Comment from AF
Time December 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Saddened the Native American Cultural Center proposal didn’t seem attractive enough to city planners… therefore the city, named after a Duwamish Chief, will continue the lack of a prominent mainstream place to honor Indian culture.

Comment from Aaron Pickus, Assistant Communications Director
Time December 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm


The Seattle Center is speaking with the representatives from that proposal to see if there are opportunities elsewhere on the Seattle Center campus for a Native American Cultural Center. Thanks for posting here.

Comment from Kathrynn Scheele
Time December 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

A Chihuly museum is a very bad idea. It is a waste of space and money and appeal to only a small interest group. Chihuly has a fine space in Tacoma we don’t need another one in Seattle. WIth out the fun forest there is very little to interest families to pay parking and put up with the hassel of going downtown. The amount of space allocated for the playground is too small an not enough to entice families out of their neighborhood playgrounds. Roller and Ice rinks, and another amumsment park would be a better use of space if the goal is truly to make this a family place instead of an pretensious artsy waste of space that appeal only to a limited group. My family use to love to go to the science center, eat at the food court and go to the fun forest or play at the fountian. This plan will turn it into a boring empty waste of money.

Comment from Paul
Time December 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

BOOOO! The Chihuly thing is ridiculous, a pet project for filthy rich people. It’ll privately profit a group that is already doing just fine.

Don’t give our public open spaces to narrow interest groups. Open up more space for the People!

Comment from Seattle citizen
Time December 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

The Chihuly museum is a terrible idea in every dimension that I can think of. The notion should have been 86-ed at the earliest possible moment. How this arrangement is any better than the arrangement between the city and the NBA? Instead of millionaire steroid freaks making outrageous demands you would have, well, maybe not the steroids.
He can have a space in the Northwest Rooms if his presence at Seattle Center is actually required. That necessity has not been demonstrated.
KEXP is not quite as crack-brained, but is close. Its one redeeming feature is its low impact so that when it fails to deliver (no one is going to pay to look through a window at a DJ and thank God for that) it won’t have to be torn down.
Tearing down Memorial Stadium to build a parking garage sounds like the punchline to a joke told in the steam bath at the WAC. Jesus wept, what brazen boondoggery.
There is talk on this page of the Seattle Center vision but I don’t see it spelled out anywhere. Is the idea to make the site more cohesive? Adding more architecture is not the answer.
The only far-looking, citizen-friendly and adult-minded option is to create an open space. Just do it and dissolve all these commissions, focus groups and other consensus-building BS.

Comment from AC
Time December 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

While I personally enjoy Chihuly work and understand that this will generate much needed funds, I just don’t see the need when there is a beautiful Glass Museum just down the road in Tacoma. It is good that the Chihuly/Space Needle endeavour is providing $2 mil towards the play space. Very glad that talks continue with the Northwest Native Cultural Center initiative. Wonder if that initiative can be adjusted to generate city funds as well as providing the much needed focus on our Native history & current contributions.

Comment from Monica
Time December 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

While the Chihuly museum is completely unnecessary – aside from the Tacoma location, one can see Chihuly glass at any number of locations throughout Seattle – it all comes down to the almightly dollar. If we can’t do away with it entirely, I’m happy to support this compromise so that KEXP can have some space on the Center campus. Fitting that they will (if the proposal is passed) be neighbors to SIFF in the NW rooms. The Seattle Center has no problem attracting tourists, but we need reasons for the locals to visit. Why would Seattlelites pay $$ to see glass they can see anywhere for free?

Comment from Monica
Time December 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Even more fitting that KEXP would be neighbors to the Vera Project. . . .

Let’s get this proposal done!

Comment from Seattlejitterbalm
Time December 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I am glad KEXP is included, and a children’s feature. Good on you for that. I hope the footprint for the Chihuly Museum is kept within reason, because like any other “permanent” art exhibit, it will attract a stream of out-of-towners but for those of us locals who return frequently it will have a static quality to it. You know. It’s glass. It’s heavy. It doesn’t move.

Comment from Nafiso Samatar
Time December 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I like this and i am going bring my children.

Comment from Thach Nguyen
Time December 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

The playground would be a great idea. I agree that although a gallery would be nice we have many of them already and with the one in tacoma there is no need for that it should be interactive and fun. Currently it looks like a dead area unless an event that goes on in the area.

Comment from meg
Time December 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm

How can you even THINK of spending money (privately donated or not) on a glass museum we don’t need and one more place for the rich folks to be seen when the governor just announced major cuts to social programs and PUBLIC EDUCATION for our CHILDREN? Unless the project is going to be totally and forever funded by private donors IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN Shame on you! Also to the private donors, how about funding an instrument rental and teachers for a music program in schools-it has been proven that kids who learn an instrument or engage that part of the brain involving music, perform better in other, less aesthetic areas of life…

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Comment from Johnny Juliano
Time December 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I for one am very excited about Mayor McGinn’s plans for the Seattle Center. This is exactly what Seattle needs!