The Art Stable

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Designer: Olson Kundig Architects
Project: The Art Stable
Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, Design Principal; Kirsten R. Murray, AIA, Managing Principal; Kevin Kudo-King, AIA LEED AP, Project Manager, Construction Documents and CCA; Jim Friesz, AIA LEED AP, Project Manager, Schematic Design through Design Development; Jeff Ocampo, LEED AP, Project Architect
Developer: Point32
Consultants: Coughlin Porter Lundeen (Civil Engineering); DCI – Engineers (Structural Engineering); PAE Consulting Engineers (Mechanical Engineering); Kinsman Code Consulting (Code Consultant); Patrick Hayes (Energy Consultant); RDH Group (Envelope); BRC Acoustics & Technology Consulting (Acoustical); ZZA Terracon (Geotechnical); Turner Exhibits, Inc. (Gizmo Engineering Consultants); Kulchin Foundation Drilling Company (Foundation Drilling)
Completed: 2010
Photographs: Benjamin Benschneider; Tim Bies; Olson Kundig Architects - Tom Kundig
Artists at home. “Art Stable” is a modern urban project in the fast developing district of South Lake Union, near the centre of Seattle.

If the saying that “destiny lies in the name”, the building, on the former site of the stables (hence the name) combines its residential destiny with that of the new art stable for the various ateliers it houses.
Five open-plan storeys that grant the residents’ maximum flexibility and creativity, with commercial premises on the ground floor and the garage on the first floor.
The division of the interiors is left to the owner of each unit, and can easily be changed if new spaces are needed or the use is changed.
Both main façades on the building stand out for their unusual opening systems, driven by a manual mechanism on a large hinge that runs up the entire height of the façade. On the façade overlooking the side street, the top winch – fitted in the roof at the end of the external multi-storey hinge – allows easy movement of the large reinforced panels of the steel frames, meaning that items of any size, statues, paintings, etc. can easily be taken in and out of the studios on the various floors.
This is one of the distinguishing and fascinating features in the design approach by the architect Kundig: consider the building as time evolves, in the flexibility and movement of the main mechanical components for functional life inside the living and working areas. The movement of the large openings combines the “sculptural” nature – which is fully shown in the main façades – with the functional nature, enabling exceptionally large windows to be installed with respect to other residential and architectural standards.
It is also unusual in that the movement is totally manual: a series of pulleys and drive belts enable moving the large metal frames, and blocking the wing safely fixed at a given opening angle.
Given the open space layout of the floors, the windows on the main façade give correct natural ventilation to the interiors.
The building framework is in reinforced concrete, purposely leaving the structural joins on show. A series of geothermal probes has been installed in the foundation plinths: this is one of the first examples of this technique in Seattle, and the geothermal probe heating system gives high efficiency energy for the radiant heating and the cooling of the interiors.
The use of the materials pursued a dual logic: simplicity and ease of maintenance, also in response to the need to conserve the specific nature of this former warehouse: concrete, steel and glass.
The roof has been prepared for installing photovoltaic panels that will help supply the energy to recharge the electric cars.
The building received the prestigious AIA – American Institute of Architects – International Housing award in 2011: for functionality and practicality combined with sophisticated forms for new ways of living.

Marina Cescon
Acciaio Arte Architettura 11