Walden Three at the Seven Seas Building
The Seven Seas Building is located in downtown Seattle. Walden 3 is staged in this six-story building, with arts programming happening on four of the six floors. Click through for an overview of how each floor operates and the types of exhibitions and events that happen within W3.
The Seven Seas Building was constructed in the late 1880s and originally functioned as "The Wholesale House of C. Sidney Shepard & Co., Seattle." Over the course of a century, the building hosted a number of commercial businesses, including the Sultan Hotel, Hotel Vendome, Seven Seas Tavern, Sultan's Cinema, a cigar shop and a gun range. In 1966, the northern half of the building was demolished, leaving the central staircase and the six floors of the southern structure. In 1985, the Lusty Lady moved into the first floor and became the buildings sole and last tenant, going out of business in 2010 citing lack of patronage.
The Seven Seas Building is immediately across the street from the Seattle Art Museum and the Lusty Lady marquee often commented on current exhibits or the Hammering Man statue. Mimi Gates called the Lusty Lady's marquee a Seattle landmark.
The building owners gutted the six-floor building (Two levels above first avenue and three below) and are preparing for seismic retrofitting and other renovations, including an elevator and HVAC to bring the building to code. Estimated cost at critical renovations is 4 million dollars. The building owner is willing to incur these costs and lease at market rate, but the ideal tenant would assume a master lease with the building "as is." There are roughly 25,000 square feet distributed over 6 floors with pedestrian access on Post Alley (B3) and First Avenue (A1). The roof top holds possibilities for development, understanding that the Four Seasons Hotel owns the air rights over 10 feet from the top of the building.
In 2006, the Lusty Lady survived the threat of the wrecking ball when the building's owner, a Seattle family, refused a multi-million-dollar tear down offer from developers of a new Four Seasons Hotel next door. The owners instead received $850,000 "for air rights to the views over their property.
Currently the building is vacant and awaits development in a down economy.
The top floor gallery is a 3,300 square foot exhibition space designated for installations, performance and cross-disciplinary works. It primarily serves as a non-commercial exhibition space designed for conceptual, site-specific and/or temporary works.
The Mercer Gallery is a relatively raw space with an open floor plan and a small portable office to house the curatorial staff.
W3 offers small artist stipends and materials budgets for the creation of the works, and also assists artists in procuring additional funding (grants) and secondary venues outside of the Pacific Northwest.
This space is designed to take chances, question the identity and role of art and the artist, provoke, fail and challenge our ideas about self-expression and art. These performances, installations and other hybrids may not always look or feel like traditional gallery exhibition and may even fail to achieve the distinction as art. Creative works (exhibits/events) may last a minute, an hour, a week, or a month.
The success of the Mercer Gallery is founded upon the imagination and ambition of the artists and ideas presented, not upon critical acclaim or financial gain.
Examples of Artists: Implied Violence, SuttonBeresCuller, Iole Allesandrini, New Mystics, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Lead Pencil
Examples of Curators: Beth Sellars, Robin Held, Yoko Ott, Sierra Stinson
The second floor of Walden Three is dedicated to commercial exhibition and art sales. Eight regional curators and/or dealers mount one show per year, showcasing what they believe to be the very best in Pacific Northwest contemporary art. The gallery will host eight exhibitions a year, with a ninth, end-of-the-year salon, exhibiting the most dynamic and definitive pieces from Portland to Vancouver BC. These nine exhibitions are the polished commodities of Walden Three, designed to make money and push mid-career artists towards national and international recognition.
Examples of Artists: Dan Webb, Warren Dykeman, Gretchen Bennett, Jack Daws
Examples of Curators: Billy Howard, Greg Kucera, Scott Lawrimore, Kristen Anderson, Gail Gibson, James Harris
Each curator would work on a flat commissioned-based scale to minimize production overhead and maximize the incentive to exhibit and sell work. Curators would work with the understanding that they are given a production budget and supportive staff to market and mount exhibitions.
First Ave Portal
A1 is the first floor storefront accessible from 1st Avenue and the main entrance to Walden Three. It hosts a variety of functions and is the gateway to the other dimensions of the space. It does have five primary roles- that of an art school, wardrobe and stylist station, peep show installations, a coffee shop and a common space for visitors to congregate, socialize and learn more about the events within the building. Here is the breakdown, understanding that A-1 is an open floor plan and designed as a flexible space.
The first floor will also be a social space for informal gatherings, meetings and general relaxing between other programming at W3. It is modeled after a worn hotel lobby (see Ace Hotels) that provides comfortable seating, reading material, WI-FI and capable of hosting informal discussions.
There will be a commercial coffee kiosk operated by a PNW roaster, serving beverages, light fare and W3 merchandise. It will have a relatively small footprint on the ground floor but help create a casual space, generate income and encourage an environment for social exchange and gathering. This will be an income producing sublet to an existing PNW coffee company, such as Stumptown/Café Vita/Vivace/etc.
Peep Show Installations
It is important to recognize the past tenant and retain some of the spirit and history of the building. This could include "Live Nude Figure Drawing" in the classroom area, as well as traditional peep show windows, that when fed dollar bills, reveal some private visual art installation, such as video, installation, or live conversations with participating artists. Behind these small mechanical windows would lay an interesting rotating of artist-made installations, performances and video.
Denny School of Art
Art schools are very expensive and not accessible to the majority of a population. In order for a city to foster a great cultural movement, the residents of that city must have access to art history, art theory, artist lectures and art production. Walden Three will employ two full-time art teachers versed in both studio and academic studies. Available to all visitors, W3 art classes cost one dollar, and happen daily on the broad staircase between A1 and B1.
This classroom will host TED style lectures from the creative community, discussions and informal conversations such as John Boylan, Ignite and Four Peaks do, as well as offer more formal instructional based training in drawing, painting, performance and craft.
The art school will have a video feed that will document and live broadcast all educational programming, artist lectures and other stage-based performances, readings and entertainment. This will be fed through the W3 website in real time, and selected lectures and activities will be edited and archived for long term education access on the W3 site, itunes, Youtube, Vimeo and other web-based platforms. The emphasis is providing dynamic educational content for a regional as well as international audience.
As a film set, W3 will be in need of stylists who help dress, style and provide hair and make-up to the actors/visitors/set extras of Walden Three. The stylist station is in the entry of the building, greeting visitors and encouraging them to engage in personal transformation – including haircuts, fashion counsel, make up and accessories. It is designed to make the guests of W3 more visually interesting and part of the project instead of simple spectators. This station would be in conjunction with hair studios like Vain, stylist schools like Gene Juarez and fashion/art students eager to transform the general public into something spectacular. Sometimes changing the physical appearance of a person is the first step into changing the way they think and behave, and our stylist station is a fun and accessible way to prepare visitors for a unique art experience. It also makes the documentary film much more visually dynamic.
The Artist Bazaar
The first lower level will serve as a daily artists and craft marketplace, with approximately (100) booths for independent exhibition and sales. These booths would be rented on a monthly or daily basis to local artists ($250.00 per month/$25.00 per day), selected by W3 staff, and serve as a vibrant draw and eclectic mix of regional art goods. It would create a revenue base of $25,000.00 per month and help shepherd a broad range of artists and visitors into the space. Given the proximity to the Pike Place Market, SAM and the downtown core, the bazaar would serve a healthy tourist trade as well as regional shoppers.
Examples of existing models: I Heart Rummage, Punk Rock Flea Market, Makers Fair, Craft Uprising, Pike Place Market
W3 Production Offices
The second lower level would be the production offices, meeting space, a commercial grade kitchen and sleeping quarters for use by W3 staff and collaborators. It is not open to the public, but can be utilized as a mixed-use space for work and social gatherings. This is where the production team creates, eats, meets, and socializes. It is defined as such:
The ground level basement opens out to post alley and acts as the dance club, cocktail lounge and second entrance into Walden Three. This space is operated as an independent bar/restaurant space, serving patrons, artists and the general public at large. It is a revenue generating leased space operated by a select tenant at market rate.
Examples of tenants: Linda Derchang, Mark Stoner
Bringing the Building/Set to Code
This 1880s building, located at 1313 – 1st Avenue, requires substantial retrofitting and renovation to bring it to code and legal to occupy.
The building owners have solicited a comprehensive bid for this structural work, with a preliminary construction price of ($3,392,560.00) for phase IIB, plus Washington State Sales Tax. These figures reflect the following contractors and below work description:
Team: Lydig Construction, McKinstry Engineering, IL Gross Structural
Engineers: CollinsWoerman, THG, LLC
Schedule: Approximately 12 months including City of Seattle approvals.
Given the use of the building, the need for tenant improvements are necessary but economical. B-3 will be built-out by a sublet tenant, and B-1, A-1, A-2 and A-3 are basically large, open floor plans, only needing bathrooms and finished surfaces. The production offices and resident apartment will require a more structural build out, but the design of Walden Three relies on large open spaces without decoration or complexities.
We have estimated the cost for renovation and remodeling at $1,500,000.00 + Washington Sales tax. Below is a floor by floor overview of these improvements, created by Greg Lundgren in partnership with Olson Kundig Architects:
A3 – Returning it to a clean open space.
A2 – Returning it to a clean open space
A1 – Reconfiguring the space for access to B1 and A2
B1 – Returning it to a clean open space
B2 – Returning it to a clean open space
B3 – Returning it to a clean open space