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Building a Landmark: A Closer Look at the Seattle Arena in SoDo

Head of the Seattle office of the project's architectural firm reminds us of the glory -- and public benefit -- of the new arena.

HOK, Site Workshop

Sometimes lost in the shuffle of the talk of permits and street vacations and pedestrian traffic and council votes for the Seattle Arena project in SoDo is the artistry, heritage, usability, and sustainability of the actual building itself.

This project isn't just designing a facility to garner and house an NBA and/or NHL team for us (though, it should always be clear that that is the primary focus). It is crafting a new landmark in the city to stand just as iconic alongside Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Great Wheel, Benaroya Hall, the Columbia Center, the Smith Tower, and even, of course, the Space Needle.

Anton Foss, senior vice president of HOK, the architectural firm designing the arena project, takes some time with the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce to lay out the finer points of this unique structure that could soon live in the city skyline.

As a new landmark for the city, the Seattle Arena will deliver an amazing game-day experience for NBA and NHL fans and enliven the growing Sodo neighborhood.


"The integration of the arena with the other two sports venues and surrounding neighborhoods provides a southern terminus to Seattle’s new waterfront, energizing both the stadium district and the entire city," said HOK urban designer Jerome Unterreiner, a frequent contributor to the redevelopment of Seattle’s waterfront over the past several years.

Foss explains how the distinctive turbine design of the main bowl pays tribute to the aviation history that has been such a bedrock foundation of the city's growth and identity. He also lays out the benefits to the public that the project will bring, including the environmentally-friendly green features designed in partnership with Site Workshop, the firm designing the exterior site and landscape features of the project.

The addition of more than 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space — comparable in size to Occidental Park and Westlake Park combined — will benefit the community year-round. The large outdoor plaza will accommodate intimate concerts, watch parties, a weekend farmers market or an outdoor basketball tournament. The club restaurant will spill out onto First Avenue and fans will frequent the surrounding businesses.

Foss' full "closer look" is a great summary for those who aren't too familiar with the project, and an even better refresher for those keeping eyes on the goal.