The 1.5-million-square-foot, $2 billion Summit building, Seattle Convention Center’s addition, occupies four city blocks in the heart of Seattle’s urban core. Located at the crossroads between many of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods and framing four of its most prominent street corridors, the project marks a transformative moment in the history of downtown Seattle. The event spaces are stacked vertically to integrate into the relatively compact urban footprint, positioning it within walking distance to a variety of hotels, retail spaces, and Pike Place Market.
“The demand for increased density and tall, more efficient buildings is making a mark on urban centers around the world," said Leonardo da Costa, Principal, LMN Architects. "With its striking architecture and multiple levels, the Seattle Convention Center Summit offers a sense of excitement and innovation that enlivens Seattle’s skyline. The venue is designed to be a contemporary emblem for the future of urban meetings and events, contemplating how people interact in today’s world and creating a space where people can experience the culture of Seattle’s distinctive urban core.”
From one single large event or conference to multiple smaller simultaneous meetings, the convention center's meetings, events, and public spaces feel integrated and offer diverse environments. The project also includes two mixed-use co-development towers, a 540,000-square-foot office tower under construction, an approximately 400-unit residential tower (in future plans), 36,000 square feet of retail spaces distributed around the street frontages, and 16,000 square feet of public open space. Both towers rise over podiums with street-level retail and public-facing uses located above the convention center’s below-grade loading docks.
The convention center’s program is distributed across six levels of event spaces, including two exhibit halls stacked one above and one below-grade. Every event space incorporates natural daylight, and the six levels are connected vertically through two large atria. Multiple at-grade entries connect to a registration level between the two exhibit halls. Above are two meeting room levels and a 58,000-square-foot ballroom. A glass-enclosed atrium stair along Pine Street positions the interior circulation patterns along the edge of the building. A street level plaza at the corner of 9th Avenue and Pine Street collects the activities of residents and visitors linking to a publicly accessible retail market. Exterior terraces designed to accommodate a variety of activities overlook views of the surrounding urban environment.
“The Summit building has many unique interior spaces with materials that interpret the forest floor and tree canopy shadows, and social gathering spaces embellished with the warmth of wood, crafted metal detailing, and vibrant color accents," said Lori Naig, Principal, LMN Architects. "Wood and wood products are prominently featured throughout the interior of the building, from intricately crafted light fixtures to the design of several feature ceilings, there are unique wood elements to experience in numerous locations throughout the project.”
The interior spaces feature an array of sustainable, local, and regional materials. The neutral color palette incorporating wood, natural stone, blackened hot rolled steel, terrazzo, and light-reflecting surfaces creates a distinctive Pacific Northwest character while allowing the colors and materials associated with each event to stand out. Distinctive uses of wood, including use of salvaged wood — some from an old building demolished on site and some “wormwood” salvaged from log booms — are featured throughout the building.
Extensive exterior glazing makes strong connections between inside and outside, where the enclosure functions as a two-way frame, showcasing the interior events and the exterior experiences. The urban experience becomes the backdrop for events happening inside the building and the events inside the building become part of the urban experience.
Summit is projected to achieve LEED Gold certification, having used environmentally friendly design elements during the construction and planning to do likewise in its operations. These include using sustainably sourced, recycled materials throughout the building, such as plant-based acoustic ceiling tiles and bio-based fabric panels. The rooftop incorporates solar panels that will improve the building’s energy performance by 30 percent over the baseline rating, and a rainwater harvesting system will reduce irrigation usage by a projected 89 percent.
This addition reflects the center’s ongoing commitment to the surrounding community with a $93 million benefits package to enhance the lives of area residents via affordable public housing, public art and open spaces, and improvements to the pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure. Approximately $40 million of the investment package was devoted to the creation and preservation of affordable housing units. Additionally, the convention center’s board of directors awarded $150 million in work scopes to minority- and women-owned businesses. With the opening of Summit, the additional generated business will also have far-reaching economic impact via meeting attendee spending at area businesses, restaurants, and hotels.
“The project demonstrates a holistic urban approach for how a convention center contributes to making a high-performance urban core serving the entire community," said Mark Reddington, Partner, LMN Architects. "By creating a welcoming and more equitable space in the city, the benefits to the local community of the new Summit building go significantly beyond the building’s footprint. The project serves as an economic driver, attracting visitors from the local community and beyond."