Sunday/ Denny Way construction

Here are pictures of the construction projects that line Denny Way just west of Interstate 5, that I had taken on Friday at dusk.
Presumably, work on these projects have started up again (while meeting the Covid-19 guidelines published by Washington State).

These are the two towers of the massive 1120 Denny Way apartment building (1,179 apartments), seen from Melrose Ave looking west.
The 40-story, 440-ft Nexus Tower on the left, with its 389 condominiums, is now complete. A handful of units are still available, including 8 penthouses (1,400 sq ft), says the website. My guess is that the asking price for each is around $2.5 million. The big expensive penthouses of 3,000 sq ft were rumored to have sold for some $5 million. On the right is the Kinects Tower apartment complex with its wedge profile (constructed in 2017).
Panning a little to the left with Denny Way crossing I-5, shows the construction of mixed-use buildings on the south of Denny Way, across from the Seattle City Light Denny Substation. I’ll make my way down there soon for a closer look. When it’s all done, there will be a pair of 44-story apartment buildings, and yet another, a 41-story apartment building.
Here is a picture similar to the one I had taken in December, from higher up on Denny Way, showing that the Space Needle is getting obscured. A few more floors on the 1120 Denny Way apartment have gotten their glass skins, but progress has been slow.

Tuesday/ the Doon Drive House, completed

Here’s the Doon Drive house, now replete with Chev truck by the front door, back yard, tennis court, swing set, swimming pool, trees and flower beds.

Did I go a little overboard? Well no – this is really not going overboard, given all the crazy things LEGO builders have come up with!
I will let it occupy my dining room table for a bit, and then decide what to do! Maybe I will put the bricks for just the house, in a shoebox, with pictures, so that it can be rebuilt again.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the estate. The roof tile colors worked out great, and I replaced the original white wall bricks with a tan color for the house. I patched together several gray and green baseplates to create enough ‘real estate’ to work with.
This is the driveway paved with brick, with an early 80s Chevrolet K10 Custom truck parked by the front door.
The garage doors can swing open (but yes, the door openings are too tight to accommodate the truck).
The swimming pool was created with a white base plate, so that the translucent light blue & dark blue tiles could show their true colors. That’s a bore hole in the foreground, with a little froggie looking for some water. There’s a grey bird sitting in the thorn tree with the yellow blossoms.
The tennis court and swing set were challenging, but I am happy with the result. The ‘chains’ holding the tire for the swing are the only non-LEGO pieces in the entire set (wires covered with plastic).
The ladies are enjoying refreshments by the tennis court.
Check out the white bed sheets on the laundry line in the courtyard.
The roof can be removed to reveal the rooms and furnishings inside the house. Main bedroom on the far left with its en suite bathroom, and then a long hallway lined with bedrooms in the front, and additional bath rooms across from them. Front door and entrance hall on the far right.
Here’s the kitchen, on the left, the lounge on the right, and the dining room and little patio leading to the swimming pool.
Another view of the lounge, kitchen, dining room and patio.
Trees and flower beds in the back of the garden.

Tuesday/ Stockholm’s arty subway

Stockholm is near the top of my list, for when we can travel again.
I want to go to the ABBA museum, and I want to stop at each and every one of the subway stations that David Alrath had photographed for Wired magazine.  I copied the captions for the photos from the Wired article, as well.

As its name suggests, T-Centralen is the central stop in Stockholm’s metro system and connects its red, green, and blue lines. When it initially opened in 1957, the city had never seen anything like it. Its blue line platform (pictured) was designed in the early 1970s by artist Per Olof Ultvedt, who didn’t have to look much further than its name for inspiration. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
The Tekniska Högskolan station takes its name from the aboveground school, the Royal Institute of Technology. Artist Lennart Mörk paid it homage by decorating the walls with scientific imagery and themes, like Copernican heliocentrism and Newton’s third law of motion. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
The Solna Centrum station opened in 1975, in an era when the environmental movement was drawing attention around the world. Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg’s mural is very much of its time—and this one. It’s a paean to nature, with the lower half depicting a forest and the upper half a red sunset. Sweden hosted the UN’s first conference on the environment in 1972. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
The Solna Centrum station opened in 1975, in an era when the environmental movement was drawing attention around the world. Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg’s mural is very much of its time—and this one. It’s a paean to nature, with the lower half depicting a forest and the upper half a red sunset. Sweden hosted the UN’s first conference on the environment in 1972. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
After Björk and Åberg finished their initial work at Solna Centrum Station, they felt like it was missing something. So they went back and painted in details, from a prop plane coasting the treetops to a musical bar depicting notes from Woody Guthrie’s song “Better World.” PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
Inaugurated in 1977, the Kungsträdgården (“King’s Garden”) station takes its name from the baroque garden outside the 17th-century Makalös Palace, which burned down in 1825. Artist Ulrik Samuelson created a ghost garden studded with replicas of the statues that once belonged to the palace … and also, spiders. It’s the only place in Northern Europe where the Lessertia dentichelis species can be found. Creepy. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
Thorildsplan station was built in 1952, a couple decades before the invention of the 8-bit aesthetic that now adorns its walls. Lars Arrhenius created the tilework in 2008. The artist wanted to immerse passengers in a videogame version of the metro, with pixelated sidewalks, stairs, and elevators. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
As Stockholm extends the metro, artists continue decorating it. The Citybanan-Odenplan stop on the green line, opened in 2017, features work by 14 different artists, including David Svensson. His Life Line sculpture features more than 1,300 feet of LED lights zigzagging below the ceiling like lightning beneath the clouds. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH
At a glance, the Mörby Centrum Station looks like an ice cave decorated by elves at the North Pole. But it’s also an optical illusion. When painting the tunnel, artists Gösta Wessel and Karin Ek placed a spotlight at one end of the room and painted the shadowy areas of the blasted rock wall gray, then repeated the process from the other end, this time painting the recesses pink. The room’s color changes depending on where you stand. PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID ALTRATH

Saturday/ once upon a time on Doon Drive

Here’s a sneak peek at my current LEGO project.
I call it ‘The Doon Drive House’. It’s a replica of the house that I grew up in, in South Africa — in a town called Vereeniging, and on Doon Drive, of course.

I had photos of the outside of the house to help me with the dimensions. As for the inside: I still recall every nook and cranny, down to the furniture and appliances that were installed.

So it’s quite a trip down memory lane for me, with the little bricks from Denmark. I used to play with them in that very house, all of 6 years old.

It’s all still very rough, but getting there. I’m using old-fashioned little red doors and windows, to keep the scale of the house down to a reasonable size (about 1:100). LEGO stopped making those doors & windows way back in 1976. The roof bricks have a 33° slope; the 45° ones would make the roof way too tall. I ordered more roof bricks from a seller in Norway & other bricks from Germany (from BrickLink). Yes: nothing is going to stop me now from completing the house!
Here are the door sizes that a LEGO house builder can choose from (dimensions in LEGO studs): the 1d x 2w x 3h, the 1x3x4 or the 1x4x6. The yellow one is FOUR times the size of the red one, and as a consequence a house built with it will be roughly four times as large, as well. Maybe I will try using the middle one for a next iteration of the Doon Drive House.

Monday/ ‘No Bears Allowed’

I walked by the newly completed The Point apartments at 1320 University Street in the First Hill neighborhood today.

‘No Bears Allowed’, says the website of their pet policy. May we add: no bears allowed into the US stock market, as well. (Dow Jones down 3.6% today).

The architect had to squeeze the building into a triangular ‘flatiron’ shape. Those apartments on the narrow end have a great 270° view onto the streets below. Upper floor residents should be able to see a lot of the First Hill and Seattle downtown surroundings.
A poured concrete beam at the base of the apartments. The building has 11 one bed-one bath apartments, and 6 two bed-two bath apartments. These apartments are pricey: a one bedroom goes for $2,550/ month.  In late January, the parliament of the Berlin city-state in Germany, approved a five-year freeze on rents and a price cap of €9.80 per square meter — or about $1 per square foot. Seattle’s metro area is way, way (2x, 3x) beyond that kind of rate with these new apartments that come online.

Wednesday/ the Volunteer Park Water Tower

It was another beautiful day here in Seattle.
I wanted to get a clear view of Mt Rainier, and the observation deck of the Water Tower here in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill was a good place to go to get that. And hey, no entry fee: it’s free of charge.

The Water Tower in Volunteer Park was built in 1906 and is 75 ft (23 m) tall.
A Maurits Escher-esque illusion: does this staircase inside the Tower go up, or down? (It goes down).
The observation deck inside allows for 360 degree views. The sun was low on the horizon right by the Space Needle, though, and so I will have to go back in the morning some time, to take a nice Space Needle picture.

 

Ta-da! The Mountain* is completely out, a cloudless blue sky above it.
*Mt Rainier, a Strato-volcano mountain in the Cascade Range | Elevation 14,411 ft (4,392 m) | Last eruption: 1894.
This is the entrance/ exit facing Prospect St. MCMVI, says the Roman numerals: 1906. The brown signpost on the right says ‘Climbing Prohibited’. So that must mean that rock climbers have tried to scale the uneven outer brick wall with its toeholds and finger holds!

Sunday/ Denny Way’s new apartment towers

I went down to check out the construction at 1120 Denny Way this afternoon – a complex with a large footprint, and two apartment towers.

At its completion it will be the biggest apartment building in the history of the city with 1,179 apartments.

I was standing at the corner of Denny Way and Boren Ave N when I took this picture. That’s a 12-story luxury hotel in the middle, with the two 41-story towers on its sides.
Here’s a picture from a nearby crane cam, that shows the proximity of Lake Union. Apartments in those top floors will have killer views, but it could come at a price. I suspect that elevator rides up and down from the top floors could easily take 10 to 15 minutes during busy times in the day. Hopefully the elevator design called for dedicated elevators for say, each section of 10 floors. [Picture found on skyscapercity.com, originally posted on Flickr on Jan31 by an anonymous user called Test_Name].

Tuesday/ the Twin Towers in 1999

Here is a digital scan of the 35mm film negative, of a picture of the Twin Towers, that I had taken in 1999 from the Hudson River.  I was on a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan island.

The World Trade Center’s twin towers, seen from the Hudson River, in March 1999. The building in the distance — between the Towers — is the Woolworth Building, an early American skyscraper, located at 233 Broadway. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930, with 55 floors and a height of 792 ft (241 m).

Sunday/ more Convention Center space

Here’s a peek over the fence at the construction site for the Washington State Convention Center expansion, on the edge of Seattle downtown.

The steel columns and rafters that will create the cavernous spaces for the $1.8 billion Washington State Convention Center addition are starting to rise. The extension will be called ‘The Summit’ and open in 2022 for business. It is expected to bring in some $200 million a year from out of state, and is said to already have bookings for events as far out as 2026.
Here is what the completed city block on Olive Way will look like. The structure will be 6 stories tall, with retail on the ground floor, a ball room, and an exhibition hall of 150,000 sq ft. The structure was designed by LMN Architects. They did the design of the University of Washington light rail station, as well as the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union. [Image: Courtesy of LMN Architects].

Saturday/ Perth Cultural Centre

Here are a few pictures from my walkabout in Perth’s Cultural Centre on Friday.

An eye-catching mural on the corner of Aberdeen Street and Museum Street.
I love the colorful triangles on the sidewalk. This is right by the New Museum for Western Australia, scheduled to open in November of this year.
And here is the New Museum of Western Australia (WA). Its lines remind me just a little bit of Seattle’s Public Library. It was designed by a collaboration of Australian architecture firm Hassell and Dutch architectural firm OMA. Here are pictures, of the inside. 
This gorgeous building at 27 Museum Street is the only surviving residential building in the area. It was built in 1897, and is a pair of two-story semi-detached houses in the Federation Queen Anne style. The building now serves as offices for a Perth college.

Sunday/ a twilight cruise

On Sunday, we went on a twilight cruise on the upper Swan River ⁠— just a slow round trip at 5 knots, on the wide swath of river by downtown Perth.
Here’s where we went, and a few of the sights along the way.

We boarded the cruise boat at Barrack St Jetty, went by Heirisson Island, and up to The Royal at the Waterfront (upmarket condos on the water). We came back the same way, but the captain steered us by Mends St Jetty, and then on the Elizabeth Quay for a look at the city skyline, before finishing up at the Barrack St Jetty.
This is Barrack Square, close to the starting point at Barrack Street jetty. The Bell Tower (built in 1999) is now crowded a little bit by its new neighbors: two luxury condominium towers on the right, and a Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the left.
Across from the Bell Tower, a Double Tree Hotel is going up, with pressed metal plates creating a pattern on the outside.
These flood lights are standing like sentries at the stadium of the Western Australia Cricket Association. The burn rate is AUS$ 2,000 (US$ 1,400) per hour, when the lights are on.
Here’s a new suspension pedestrian bridge coming up, the Matagarup Bridge, spanning the Swan River. It opened Jul. 2018 at a cost of US$ 90 million. Its form symbolizes a white swan and a black swan.
Passing under the Matagarup Bridge. It looks like the bridge designers borrowed elements from the design of roller coaster frames.
The high points of the bridge frame stand at 72 m (236 ft).
Our cruise boat had mostly covered seats inside, with a small outside seating & standing area in the bow. The low profile of our vessel allowed it to go underneath all of the bridges on our tour. Here we were approaching the little Trafalgar pedestrian bridge by The Royal At The Waterfront condominiums. Prices range from AUS $1- $5m; that’s US$700k- $US3.5m.
This collared lizard artwork is at the Mends St Jetty. The Perth Zoo is nearby.
The national flag in David Carr Memorial Park (with its Union Jack and Southern Cross star constellation, of course). Australia Day is coming up: Jan. 26 every year. It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.
Here is a little bit of the city skyline by Elizabeth Quay. The towers are the headquarters of mining giants BHP Billion (on the left) and Rio Tinto (middle).
Here is another pedestrian bridge that mimics a swan, the Elizabeth Quay pedestrian bridge. It is approached by a Transperth ferry, that will cross over to the other side of the Swan River.

Monday/ the National Stadium and more

I went out to look at the new National Stadium today.
It has been shown to the media, and was officially opened on Sunday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The general public still have to peek over the solid fencing around it to look at the outside shell of the stadium, though.

This is the entrance/ exit at the Kokuritsu-kyogijo station on the Toei Ōedo Line,  one of two subway stops near the National Stadium. This is the first of 6 sets of stairs & escalators that get one to the platform deep, deep below ground.
Here it is! The new National Stadium, replacing the old one that had been on this site for the 1964 Games. The photo is a panning shot I made with my phone held over the top of the silly fence around the stadium. The original design as well as its budget for the construction, were toned down a few times. Even so, the final tab still came to US$1.4 billion (¥157 billion). It is an all-purpose stadium that will be used after the Games, though. Cedar wood gathered from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures were used for the eaves that cover the three-tier stands as well as the pent roofs that surround the stadium.
What is this new impressive structure right across the street from the Stadium, I wondered? It’s actually a hotel, the Mitsui Garden Hotel chain’s Jingu-Gaien Tokyo Premier hotel.
I had to make a stop at the Harajuku station, and take a picture of the old wood-frame station building. Its days are numbered: it will be demolished a few months into the new year. There is a new glass-and-steel station replacement building under construction right next to it.
This bird handler and her owl (pet owl?) was right there on the sidewalk at Harajuku station. This one might be a barred owl. Japan does have native owls (fukuro in Japanese). Owls have night vision that’s estimated to be 35 to 100 times better than humans’. Their eyes are enormous, with very wide corneas that allow the maximum amount of light through to the retinas.
The circular and green coded Yamanote line runs to Harajuku station, and here is the sleek train arriving there, to take me back to Tokyo station.
Now to Ginza, to check on the Christmas decorations and the glamorous store fronts there. Department store Mitsukoshi puts up a billboard on the street corner every year. The advertising agency may have overplayed their hand a little, and put way too much into this year’s theme, though: ‘Nostalgic Merry & Delightful Future Christmas’. Whoah. That is a LOT to contemplate. P.S. Santa ditched his sleigh for a rocket ship!
Aw. I love romantic store window scenes such as this one from French luxury jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. The guy has a rose behind his back (and a Van Cleef & Arpels engagement ring in his pocket?).
It’s Tiffany & love this time of year, says the window at jeweler Tiffany & Co. The recent $16.2 billion sale of America’s most iconic jewelry brand to European conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton will end nearly 200 years of independence for Tiffany’s.
The lights and sparkle coming on as night falls on Ginza district. The building with the white facade openings with their green lights coming on is the Ginza Place building, completed in 2016. The facade is made with some 5,000 aluminum panels.

Monday/ there goes the Space Needle

Here is another entry for the category ‘Then and Now’.
Jul. 2005 : The unobstructed view of the Space Needle from the top of Denny Way, where it crosses over I-5.

Dec. 2019 : The giant 41-story apartment towers at 1120 Denny Way are now squeezing out the Space Needle views that had remained.  If one stands in just the right spot, the Needle’s top can still be seen — between the tree branches and the apartment towers.
I marked up just a few of the new South Lake Union buildings that had filled in the cityscape since 2005.

 

Sunday/ all my little LEGO houses

Let me see how many little LEGO houses I can build, I thought, using a 4×8 base plate. Here is the result — each brings its own little charm.

P.S. The little windmill is exactly the same as a set sold by LEGO in 2018. the  Classic 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Windmill.

Friday/ around Denny Substation, at dusk

Here are a few pictures I took around Denny Substation at dusk on Thursday.
The surrounding scenery along Denny Way is changing rapidly, as three really big construction projects are gaining steam.

The pyramid-shaped shell around the Denny Substation shows ‘City’ and ‘Light’ on the northwest corner at night. (The city’s electric power utility is Seattle City Light). Up in the sky is an Alaska Air Bombardier Q400, and a half-moon⁠ — to its right the recently completed Nexus condominium tower. (The Kinect residential apartment tower on the far right was completed in 2017).
A closer look at the Nexus condominium tower (left) and the Kinect residential apartment tower (right), from the top of the walkway alongside Denny Substation.
From the same spot, looking west, along Denny Way. Two Westbank cranes (Vancouver construction company) are working on what will become a pair of 44-story apartment towers with wavy outsides, on top of a three-story podium (1200 Stewart St). That green & blue crane is used for the Denny Center at Denny Way & Fairview Ave North, a 41-story apartment building. Oh! And here comes the No 8 bus, which now has its own dedicated bus lane. It used to have a devil of a time to make it through rush-hour traffic along Denny Way.

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.