Monday/ we will see if WeWork works out

The transformation of the Kelly-Springfield building on 11th Ave in Capitol Hill into a modern office block is complete. Will WeWork move in, though — as advertised on the windows and doors?

WeWork is an international shared workspace & real estate company, and it is turmoil. It recently canceled its IPO, and is laying off thousands of employees (20% of its workforce). Bankruptcy loomed in October, and the start-up was rescued by a huge bail-out/ investment from Japanese company Softbank.

THEN: The warehouse-style building was constructed in 1917 for the Kelly-Springfield Truck Company. This 1937 picture shows its then-tenant Dewey’s Auto Service. Outdoor goods company Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) was a tenant from 1963-1996, and lastly it housed the thrift store Value Village.
NOW: The updated Kelly-Springfield building with its facade newly renovated, and with a 5-story office building added. WeWork has leased all of the space, and last everyone heard, they will move in come January.

Friday/ the door is: red

The exterior paintwork for the house on my street block, is done.
Now I can stop wondering what the colors would be!

It turned out that the upper floor would get the same gray as down below, making the white trim color to really pop. The front door is a dramatic red. It’s darker than scarlet – it could be a shade of vermilion.

Friday/ the Qualtrics Tower

I went downtown today to check on the new $392 million Qualtrics Tower (formerly known as 2+U and 2&U) on 2nd Ave. that is now nearing completion.

The 527-ft/ 161 m tall, 38-story tower has as its largest tenant Qualtrics. Qualtrics offers a software platform with which companies can measure and improve the way their customers experience their services and products.

For example, an airline would want to improve the way its passengers experience the booking of their air fares, how they board their flights, as well as how they experience being on board and arriving at their destination. That way they will come back and fly on the airline again, especially when they have a choice between airlines!

The view from 1st Ave and Seneca St. It’s really two towers: a base with 18 floors, with a 20-floor tower stacked on top of it.  (The downtown zoning height allowance changes in the middle of the street block!). The enormous V-shaped columns provide 85 ft (26 m) of open space from the ground. They were manufactured across the border in Canada, and are steel tubes in a rebar cage, all encased in precast concrete.
A closer look at the columns shows all the open space below the building, and also the public passageways. The passageways are a replacement for the alley that existed between the old buildings that had been demolished for the new one.
Hey! The early 1900’s Diller Hotel building survived the construction around it (as planned). One of downtown’s few remaining buildings from the 1890s, it was built after the Great Fire of 1889 as a luxury hotel. Today, the lobby of the erstwhile hotel is a bar with vintage decor, called the Diller Room.
This is up at 2nd Ave, where the pillars are some 20ft shorter, due to the steep grade up from 1st Avenue. The public will have access to what is called an ‘urban village’ of shops and outdoor spaces, below and around the new building.
Plenty of wood inlays to be seen here. The slanted roof on the right goes all the way to the back, and provides a little architectural flair.

Monday/ fixing it up

Here’s a cute house on my block that is getting a little bit of a makeover. So many beautiful old houses get torn down, so it’s nice to see this one getting fixed up.

The house was built in 1906. I love the bay window. It has already gotten new roof tiles and new gutters, and a nice coat of dark gray and white highlight paint down below. I wonder if the gray paint color was picked to so closely match the roof tiles. It will be interesting to see what color is chosen for the door, for the porch stairs and for the second floor. I will post another picture when those are done.

Friday/ light rail to U-district

I took the light rail up north to University District today, to go check in at the second-hand bookstore there. I have so many books that I have yet to read, though, that I allowed myself to buy only one book!

Shades of teal on one of the three new apartment buildings by the Capitol Hill train station. The first renters should be able to move in early in the new year.
Here’s the corner of University Way and NE 43rd Street. An entrance to the future University District light rail station can be seen, in the distance, in the middle of the picture. I will have to be patient: the station is only scheduled for opening in Sept. 2021.
The Varsity movie theater in the Meister building on University Way. The building was constructed in 1921, and designed by architect William White.
Here is the brand-new building for the storied Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. The Burke Museum was founded in 1885 by the Young Naturalists, a group of curious teenagers inspired by seeing the young city of Seattle transform before their eyes. This building opened just last month, and I need to go and check it out.

Monday/ The Silvian, then and now

I walk by The Silvian apartment building on 10th Ave & Harrison every now and then. I love the lettering and the trim on the bricks at the top. Let’s see if there is an earlier photo of the building online, I thought.

It turned out that the original form of the building was much grander, right after its completion in 1912.

NOW: Here is the simple but elegant building name and trim at the top brick line, today.
THEN: The Silvian Apartments, circa 1911. (Photo Courtesy: Bill Burden). The bay windows on the front, and the overhangs at the top are no longer there. And look at the beautiful trim at the top of the brickwork. The original building had 2,3,4 & 5-room apartments, at $40/ month for a 2-room in 1929. Then the Great Depression struck, and a decade later a 2-room aptmt could be had for $22/ month. Here’s more at Seattle Now & Then by Paul Dorpat.

Wednesday/ the Pike Motorworks Building

Wow .. the new Pike Motorworks Building looks quite nice, I thought as I walked by on Tuesday.

The black lettering used to say ‘BMW SEATTLE’, and it was a single-level BMW dealership and garage until 2013 or so, when BMW moved out. The property was then developed into one of the largest apartment buildings on Capitol Hill, with an acclaimed microbrewery called Redhook Brewlab in the old BMW garage space. The Pike Motorworks Building is now owned by Boston-based TA Realty.
Artwork on the apartment. Hmm. Let’s see. Yes, smelling a rose (top right), would send (intoxicatingly pleasant) electrical signals to the brain, as would biting into an apple (bottom right). And the brain and heart (middle right) are both part of the central nervous system. Does the brain send electrical impulses to the heart to make it beat? No. Hearts get their impulses from the sinus node, a small mass of specialized tissue located in the right upper chamber (atrium) of the heart.

Saturday/ the Elliott Bay trail

Here are some pictures I took while walking along the Elliott Bay trail. Three of us went to go check out the new beach park by the new Expedia headquarters at its north end.

It’s about a half hour walk from Olympic Sculpture Park up to the new Beach at Expedia Group on the Elliot Bay urban trail.
This railway line runs under Olympic Sculpture Park. The maintenance trucks have been fitted with rail wheels to make them run on the track. The yellow and black sign (bottom left) has numbers on that indicate speed limits: F-Freight 25 mph, P-Passenger 30 mph, T-Transit 30 mph.
Here is part of a 32′ (10 m) tall totem pole next to the trail. It was carved by Tlingit Indians (‘Thu-lin-git’ with a hard g) in 1975 for Alaska Indian Arts in Haines, Alaska.
Here is the Pier 86 Grain Terminal, in operation since 1970. I looked up this bulk vessel’s name Nasaka on It was built in 2014 and is sailing under the flag of Malta. Its recent ports of call were Rizhao, China and Shanghai, China – so it will probably head out there again. Check out those yellow ‘dinner plates’ mounted on the mooring ropes by the stern of the ship. They stop rats from running onto the ship (to chomp on that yummy grain). And that orange emergency vessel, yikes! Bet it would be a hair-raising, stomach-churning ride, strapped in & sliding down, to go bob on the ocean chop!
Here’s the newly landscaped Beach Park at Expedia Group, at the north end of the Elliott Bay trail. Nicely done: a set of contoured cement steps with a little bit of lawn in, and with crushed gravel, greenery and logs down below. (There is no sand on this part of the Sound’s water edge).
Another shot, this one looking more or less south. Just to the right of the cargo ships in the distance, are the red container cranes of Terminal 5 of the Port of Seattle. The embankment on the right in the distance is West Seattle. 
There were even some bluebonnets (genus Lupinus) in bloom. The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas. 
Train coming! A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway train, as we were standing on the Thomas St pedestrian overpass. BNSF operates one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America.

Sunday/ Alaskan Way viaduct: almost gone

I went down to the railing at the top of Pike Place Market today, to go check on the Alaskan Way viaduct demolition. Only some support beams for the now-demolished double-decker viaduct, are still there.

A few blocks away more of the new Amazon buildings are nearing completion, gleaming glass and steel on the outside.

Here’s the view looking south: no sign of the viaduct! Yay! (P.S. A pity that railway tunnel and line is still there, though. Just as I was leaving, a noisy coal train came chugging through, probably headed up north to the coal export terminal in British Columbia. We don’t like coal trains in Seattle. As the freight cars cross the roadways, motorists are backed up for blocks. And in a Nov. 2016 trial against rail company BNSF, scientists testified that a million or more coal particles per second come off of each rail car, dumping mercury, arsenic, and hundreds of other pollutants into rivers, lakes and oceans along BNSF rail lines. And then of course, somewhere all the coal will get burned, become CO and contribute to the climate change crisis).
Here are some of the remaining support beams that will be demolished, looking north from the same spot.
Here is what the corner of Blanchard St & 7th Ave looks like now. The two shiny buildings are Amazon Block 21. The oval one is McKenzie luxury apartments (1 bed, 1 bath: $3,000 pm). To the left rises Amazon Block 18, a 17-story office building. Quite a transformation .. not that many years ago, I would bring my Toyota Camry to the Toyota service station that used to be right here, in Block 21.
New bike lane, watch for bicycles as you cross, pedestrians! I wonder if the bicycle picture will eventually have to be updated to include say, electric scooters.
This is the nearby Amazon Block 20 tower that has been completed for a few months now. Amazon employees must have started to move into it.

Tuesday/ the ‘Most Beautiful House’ in Germany

A new brick house in Münster, Germany, won the 2019 architectural award from 200 submissions, for the ‘Most Beautiful House’ in Germany.

I saw the report in a newspaper while I was in Germany, and looked up these pictures from the website of Die Welt newspaper.

The brick house with the asymmetrical, stepped facade and copper garage door in the Buddenturm neighborhood in Münster, Germany. [Source: Die Welt newspaper/ hehnpohl architektur bda]
Lots of exposed concrete and wood on the inside. [Source: Die Welt newspaper/ hehnpohl architektur bda]
Is it old? Is it new? Is it quite finished, with that concrete ceiling and all? I love those black lamp shades and hey, if had I lived there I am very sure I would get used to it!  Those floor-to-ceiling doors/ windows are great, too. [Source: Die Welt newspaper/ hehnpohl architektur bda]

Tuesday/ central Oslo & Aker Brygge

I spent the day running down the interesting architecture sights around central station, and the Aker Brygge (Aker docks), a little further along the waterfront.
I also checked into some stores and some bookstores.
I have so far come up empty handed, as far as finding Tintin books in Norwegian, to add to my collection.

Brunost cheese on display at breakfast here in the hotel. It’s a cheese made with whey, milk, and/or cream .. and it is very tasty.
Here’s the type of tram that gets one around central Oslo. Lots of buses available as well.
A selfie with the help of a food truck’s polished surface . I’m on my way the Astrup Fearnley Museum, the structure in the distance.
Find the mechanical reindeer in the picture! Polished marble and glass in the modern office and apartments around Aker Brygge.
Here’s the Astrup Fearnley Museet, a museum of  modern art. It’s been here awhile (since 1993), and was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Melkesjokolade .. hmm, yes, a very large slab of milk chocolate, and spelled almost identically to the way it is in Afrikaans: melksjokolade.
And a stuffed reindeer.
The Stortingsbygningen (Storting building) in central Oslo. It is the seat of the Storting, the parliament of Norway. It was designed by the Swedish architect Emil Victor Langlet and taken into use in 1866.
Here’s the regional train called the T-bane (so no U-bahn in Oslo!), coming into Carl Berners Plass station (Carl Berner plaza station).
I’m standing on the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge close to Central Station, and watching the trains come in. That’s the Nordenga road bridge in the distance. It opened in 2011.
To my left is the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge that I am standing on. The buildings on the other side of the tracks are called the Barcode buildings: twelve narrow high-rise buildings of different heights and widths.
Just a closer view of the glass, brick and steel of another one of the Barcode buildings.
Here is the new building for the (Edvard) Munch Museum, scheduled to open in spring 2020. The Munch museum collection, that includes the famous ‘The Scream’, is currently located in Toyen. (Is the building craning its neck to take a closer look at the water?).
The Oslo Opera House, at the head of the Oslofjord (but just a stone’s throw from Central Station, actually). It opened in 2008, and is the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway.


Monday night/ arrival in Oslo

My Norwegian Air flight had an hour delay out of Hamburg. There was a baggage mix-up in the airplane cargo hold that had to be resolved, but we made it into Oslo with no incident, after that.

The express train from Oslo Gardermoen airport to Oslo Sentralstasjon (central station) took only 21 minutes. The central station is so modern and sleek inside, that it has the same feel as an airport.

Here’s the view from the train coming into Oslo central station, some modern buildings lined up in the background.
Here’s our sleek express train called Flytoget at Oslo Central Station. It’s a GMB Class 71 electric train, capable of 130 mph (210 km/h). It is the only high-speed rail service in Norway, though.
I took a quick walk around the central station before the sun set completely. This is the town square right by the central station. Look for a big bronze tiger at the bottom right.

Sunday/ the Deichtorhallen

There was a persistent rain today, that made walking around without an umbrella, and not getting really wet, impossible. So I checked into the Deichtorhallen (“the levee gate halls”) art & photography museum.
These halls were built from 1911 to 1914 as market halls, on the grounds of the former Berliner Bahnhof railway station (Hamburg’s counterpart to Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof). Wikipedia says they ‘constitute one of the few surviving examples of industrial architecture from the transitional period between Art Nouveau and 20th century styles’.

This is a side view of the Deichtorhalle (‘levee gate hall’) that houses the art collection ..
.. and a view of the Deichtorhalle that houses the photography collection.
The ceiling of the art collection hall is in itself a work of art (as it should be, right?).
‘Freundinnen (Friends)’ (1965/1966) by Sigmar Polke, large oil on canvas made with raster scan dots. The artist used a paint pistol and a template to create the overlapping dots in different colors. This results in moiré patterns: large-scale interference patterns produced when an opaque ruled pattern with transparent gaps is overlaid on another similar pattern.
This giant work of mixed media on paper covers an entire wall in a small room. It is also by Sigmar Polke (1968-1971) with the strange title ‘Die Fahrt Auf Die Undendlichkeits-acht (Der Motorfahrrader)’ Eng. The Ride On the Eight of Infinity (The Motorcyclist)‘.
I thought the photography hall’s pictures were weird. (Should they be?). It had a lot of interesting/ ugly human face photos, and new-born babies, and other strange, strange pictures. I liked this scary hare staring down the camera, though. The artist was not noted, only that it is a gelatin print on paper, of a hare, made in 2000.

Saturday/ the Elbbrücken station

Well, I did run out to the Elbbrücken station on the U4 line today.
It opened in Dec 2018.
I also went up to the viewing platform of the St. Nikolai Memorial.
The city’s 1968 Heinrich Hertz Tower (280 m/ 918 ft) has long been closed to visitors, but it might reopen in a few years.

Here’s the new end of the U4 line: the Elbbrücken station. It’s right by two steel truss bridges that go over the Elbe river: one for road traffic and one for rail.
There’s the U4 station in the distance on the left, then the steel bridge for cars*, and on the right edge, the train bridge.  These are the Freihafenelbbrücke, constructed in 1926. (The Elbe river has a north and a south branch, with at least a dozen bridges). *And what are these go-carts doing on the road? Best I could tell, is that it is a group that did a jolly ride circuit around Hafencity. Shortly afterwards, all of them headed back from where they came from.
Here is a collage of images taken at different intervals, of the LED light boxes at the HafenCity Universität U-bahn station one stop down from the Elbbrücken station.
Here is the neo-Gothic St. Nikolai Memorial. At its completion in 1874 as St. Nikolai Kirche with a 147 m/ 482 ft spire, it was the tallest building in the world. Central Hamburg and its surroundings suffered terrible damage during WWII, though. In 1943 the church building was destroyed during Operation Gomorrah, but the spire escaped relatively unscathed. Today there is a plaza where the church building used to be, and a museum in the basement of the tower.
A gargoyle from St Nikolai looking over the Rathaus (city hall) from the spire’s viewing platform at 76 m/ 250 ft ..
.. and another view, revealing the rooftop of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

Friday/ U-bahn stations

Here are my favorite U-bahn station photos, so far.
There is a brand new station at the end of the U4 line that I will go and check out tomorrow.

Messberg station on the U1 line.
The entrance hall at Rathaus station on the U3 line.
Jungfernstieg station on the U2 and U4 lines.
Hauptbahnhof Süd station on the U3 line.
Berliner Tor station on the U2, U3 & U4 lines.
Niendorf Markt station on the U2 line, northeast of the city.
Emilien Strasse station on the U2 line.
Schlump station on the U2 and U3 lines.
Sierich Strasse station on the U3 line. The train cars are model DT5’s, made by Alstom & Bombardier. The DT5’s were put in service in 2012 and were the first cars to have air conditioning and gangways between cars. And yes: there is a DT6 in the works, that will be able to be operated without a driver.
Here is an inside view from my seat in a DT5 car. Hamburger Hochbahn AG, founded in 1911, operates most of the underground train lines in Hamburg.
The entrance hall to Saarland Strasse station on the U3 line features squares and rectangles.
I love the blue glass panes at Hamburger Strasse station. (Yes, people living in Hamburg are Hamburgers! – but not the kind that we eat!).
I had just stepped off the train at Gänsemarkt station on the U2 line, and there it went, sucked in by the end of the tunnel.
Aw. Live a dream – a career in the Hamburg police force, says this recruitment poster for the Hamburg police force.
Shades of blue and gray at the Überseequartier station on the U4 line.
And here is the platform of Überseequartier station on the U4 line.
This is HafenCity Universität station. The color of the boxes of overhead lights changes all the time.

Thursday/ more Hamburg

I walked around Altstadt (Old City) and Hafencity today.
There is still a lot of new construction going on in Hafencity.

Trains and platforms inside the cavernous Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station).
The hotel’s fire alarm roused all of us just before midnight, and soon the Feuerwehr (fire brigade) arrived as well. There was no fire, though .. and we got to go back in after 15 minutes. We were not told why the fire alarm went off.
Here is the neo-Renaissance Hamburg Rathaus (city hall), completed in 1897. The white globes are part of a display for Hamburger Klimawoche (climate week), promoting Klimaschutz (climate security) and sustainable policies for Earth’s resources.
Poster in the subway: ‘What We Eat Must Not Cost The World’.
Beautiful Baroque entrance to a police station in a building constructed in 1907. This is near the Chilehaus from yesterday.
Beautiful brickwork and decorations on the Sprinkenhof office building. It is right across the Chilehaus in Hamburg’s Kontorhausviertel. It was built in three phases from 1927 to 1943.
Here’s the spectacular and landmark Elbphilharmonie Hamburg: one of the world’s largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls. It opened in January 2017.
And here is the LEGO model of the Elbphilharmonie, at a LEGO store.
There is a lot of old and beautiful brickwork to be seen in the old restored warehouses in the Hafencity ..
.. and I like the outline of the old smokestack that was put in, as a nod to the building’s past, I assume.

Wednesday/ Chilehaus

The highlight of my day was to walk around the Chilehaus (Chile House) building, inside and out, and admire it.

From Wikipedia: The building was designed by the architect Fritz Höger and built between 1922 and 1924. It was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman, who made his fortune trading saltpeter from Chile, hence the name Chile House.

It is an exceptional example of the 1920s Brick Expressionism style of architecture. The Chilehaus building is famed for its top, which is reminiscent of a ship’s prow, and the facades, which meet at a very sharp angle at the corner of the Pumpen- and Niedernstrasse.



Tuesday/ arrival in Hamburg

It was a long night & day of travel, but I made it into Hamburg early Tuesday evening without too much trouble.
The 5 hr train ride proved to be little long after that 11 hr red-eye flight into Amsterdam, but hey – now I will know better next time.

Here’s the Boeing 777-200ER from KLM, named ‘Litomyšl Castle’ at the gate at Cape Town International Airport just before we started boarding. Litomyšl Castle is a large Renaissance castle in the Czech Republic.
Here’s the ‘backside’ of Amsterdam Centraal Station: the side that faces Lake Ijssel (IJsselmeer). I created an optical illusion by using the glass panes on the left as a mirror.
Here’s a panorama shot. The upper deck (for buses) and the roof structure is a straight line, bent into a curve by panning the camera.
Here’s my train route from Schiphol Airport to Hamburg Central Station. 5 h 37 mins in all; three segments, so two transfers to other trains. A little bit of a pain if you have as much luggage as I have!
This is Hamburg’s Hafen City district, the sun just setting as our train arrived into Hamburg Central Station.

Monday/ the National Library of South Africa

I spent a little time in the Cape Town branch of the National Library of South Africa today.
I was hunting down some of my favorite childhood books and magazines copies, but it turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.
I had all the information handy, gleaned from their online catalog. The public is not allowed in that section of the library, though – so the librarian had to retrieve the books for me.
Alas, the book I wanted most, could not be found immediately.  They will let me know if they have it.

The neoclassical main building of the National Library of South Africa in Cape Town on Government Ave. Its design by W.H. Kohler is based on the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge. As it happens, the building was opened on this day, Sept. 16, in 1860 .. 159 years ago to the day. [Picture: Wikipedia]
This is the hall inside the National Library’s main building on Government Ave.
Detail of a chandelier in one of the reading rooms, with a beautiful round skylight. (Just getting to the point where someone is going to have to replace those dead light bulbs, right?)
This is the Center for the Book Building at 62 Victoria Street. It was designed by British architects Hawke and McKinley in the Edwardian style, and completed in 1913.
Just around the corner is De Tuynhuys (Garden House), completed in 1790 in the Cape Dutch style. Tuynhuis the Cape Town office of the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.