Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"The Original Rainier Brewery"

Sabey's posted the renderings of the Stock House replacement ("the Ice House") on their site and announced a name for the entire complex.

I wasn't crazy about this brand-new old-style building before, but seeing it next to the words "The Original Rainier Brewery" pretty much makes me want to puke my pants.


Sabey VP Jim Harmon points out: "Since original can mean first or historic, or it can mean unique or different, it seems like this is a fine name for the property."

On the other hand, one could argue that since Sabey demolished a building that was historic and unique and is replacing it with something that is neither, that maybe it's not so fine a name.

But, as with the entire project, it is what it is.


steve said...

I don't necessarily think the proposed bldg is the greatest thing I've ever seen, but I think it could be a lot worse for sure. If they do the whole thing in brick like they're showing I think it could be a nice complement to the neighborhood. I'm just curious what you would have rather seen? What's missing from this design that you would have preferred? What suggestions has Sabey ignored?

JvA said...

I have not done a good job of providing sufficient context, tags, or links to older posts in this blog. Lately I've just been throwing up lost of short posts without much history. I think I may need to figure out whether going back and providing some detailed indexing might be worthwhile.

I've provided obsessive amounts of admittedly amateur input on what I wanted to see in this building, and I recognize that Sabey read through it and took it into consideration. For instance, in the first round of drawings, they took my idea for Corten siding and proposed using an alternative using a Tau Ceramica product. And with this design, they took my idea (could have been shared by others as well -- I'm not sure) of incorporating some piece of the original building into the new one. They're doing that by using old ice trays in the awning, which I think is cool.

Because it's hard for regular civilians to present coherent architectural ideas from scratch, I think that Sabey did not get input from the entire community at first. They took a shot at incorporating the early scattershot ideas that they did receive from weirdos like me into the first round of drawings, but these designs were just a mess of different ideas without an overarching vision. And the community rightfully hated them.

So there was a backlash against the entire concept of constructing a new building that would clearly contrast with all the historical ones surrounding it. I still think that, executed properly, that approach would have been better than what the community ended up calling for -- brick and arches that would resemble what is already there.

But since that is what they asked for, I think it’s fine that that is what Sabey provided. I even said that I think the building is kind of cute on its own -– I just wonder whether it will truly “complement” its neighbors or whether all the same-yet-different elements will be unsettling, if not jarring.

So I’d made my peace with this new design -– obviously it’s better that people who actually live and work in Georgetown like it than one loudmouth who lives up on the hill. (And I certainly haven't been hating on Sabey the way some other folks have.) But seeing the word “ORIGINAL” splashed up next to it did make me sad. The Stock House could have been called “original,” and a modern-looking construction could have been called “original,” but the chosen design -– whatever its other successes or failures -- is the very opposite of original.

foghi said...

Chiming in on the name "original" - my understanding of the name is to distingish this location from the brewery building up Airport
Way (which we now refer to as the Tully's building)

There was a debate going on regarding which brewery was built first and culling over historic documents and maps to determine this - I dont think it is intended in anyway to say this new building is "original" - but this series of buildings and brewery is the orginial location for the Rainier brand.

From "The Georgetown Story: that was a town": John Clausen and Edward F Sweeney had established a brewery in Georgetown in 1886 in a wooden structure about the size of an eight room house. Haphazard wood frame additions were made until 1892 when the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company erected a modern brick structure to the north of the original plant in Georgetown..... The four block long complex was called the Rainier Brewery, after Rainier Avenue, which it fronted..... (Rainier Avenue is now know as Airport Way)

uppergeorgetowner said...

my biggest issue with this building is that it clearly NOT a sustainable one, and that fact is very apparent in its design. Its simply irresponsible in these times to build anything that isn't green. If they had, you'd be looking at a design which could be both modern and pay homage to its predecessor. There are many very fine examples of buildings which do this - several of which were sent to Sabey for reference. There has been a lot of focus on how the building looks, but not so much on what it should be ABOUT. I think what you're sensing is a lack of authenticity in the design and no clear strategy/focus in the concept which raises that little red flag inside you that something just isn't quite right. It is SOULESS. As the first major development in Georgetown in many years, it could have been something spectacular. Its a huge lost opportunity.

cadabeso said...

I like the graphic/font choice for the building name. But I like it better replacing "Rainier Brewery," with "Sabey Land!"

steve said...

I appreciate the comments, but again I ask, what would you like see that isn't there? You say it's soulless--how could it be more soulful? You say it's inauthentic--how could it be more authentic? What's missing from this design? What suggestions do you have for making it better? To me that's a more productive conversation than all of us sitting around and pointing out all the flaws--to me that just seems like complaining. As for the sustainability, although I'm not at all a fan of the US Green Bldg Council's LEED program, these guys are going for a LEED silver certification, which does require a fairly significant investment toward environmental friendliness. I don't think you'll see very many developers in this real estate market making that kind of investment just out of the goodness of their hearts. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Sabey is so wonderful, but my perception is that they've made some legitimate attempts to respond to the community. And for us to just sit here and continue to complain without offering even any suggestions seems a little, well, lame.

uppergeorgetowner said...

There are many developers making that investment locally, and especially Portland. But I hadn't seen evidence that they are pursuing LEED Silver; that said Silver has pretty much become the basic standard for Class A office space in LOHAS markets across the country. I think primarily its the flat facade - lack of dimension, or use of shading devices which are a key feature of a well designed green building are absent. Also, would be nice to see an iconic green feature such as a rainwater capture system, or even use of recycled materials - rusted ironwork for example - either as functional element. It could look like it fits in, but it doesn't. I can appreciate they are trying, but I would guess they aren't accustomed to this kind of public scrutiny of their projects. Most stuff they do is pretty plain vanilla. Office parks and stuff.

steve said...

Great ideas. Although I don't agree that LEED silver is the basic standard for private commercial developments, I don't work on very many of those types of projects, so I don't have a lot of personal experience to make an educated opinion--I'll take your word for it. In any case, I think exterior finishes and texture are a long way from being settled at this point--they're not even through MUP. I'm sure they'll be adding some natural shades, as that's an easy LEED point. Rainwater capture is difficult in Washington (technically illegal), but I bet they could come up with something--although they probably won't because it's expensive and challenging (two entirely separate plumbing systems and large holding tanks are needed, plus an automatic switch over to traditional domestic water when the holding tank is empty, etc). Use of recycled materials I'm sure has not been ruled out at this point.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how they expect to fill this space. There's already a condo glut going on, and as most of us south-enders already know, it's not as though businesses are fighting each other to pitch their tent around here. What about traffic? Not to be Debbie Downer or anything, but I see the demolition of this cool old building as the beginning of the end of Georgetown.