March 14th, 2017
To whom it may concern;
I am a structural engineer with a business degree and have worked in the construction business for over 40 years, the last 25 as CEO, in the US and Canada plus internationally. In North America I’ve worked on commercial and institutional construction projects from the Arctic coast to Florida and from New England to California. Major restoration projects have included the interior restoration of the Texas Capitol, conversion of the Tacoma Union Station into a Federal Courthouse among others.
Over the years I’ve been commonly involved in preparing budgets for alternative design options as part of the design development process. This allows costs to be measured against values, such as building configurations, different structural alternatives, different cladding alternatives, different HVAC options and including things like preservation of landmarks, parkland and so on such that the owner of the building can make measured and informed decisions.
Having reviewed the current proposal for the Renovation and Expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum I wonder if an alternative to have all the expansion be underground has been investigated and budget pricing prepared? Technically feasible, this would eliminate the significant adverse impacts on the landmark building and park resulting from the current proposal. The Texas Capitol project expanded under ground. A huge win-win. Other examples include the Freer in Washington, Bowdoin College, Louvre in Paris and many more. At a minimum SAM Members should be asking that this alternative at least be properly explored.
Potential underground areas for the Museum include the huge Western approach, the patio of the Museum, and perhaps all the way to the parking and roadway. Visual examination of the stone pavers and stone steps in this area indicate that all or most of this area are going to have to be torn up and replaced no matter what option is taken.
Placing Mechanical equipment for climate control on the roof of the Museum with setback and screening could provide space for other needs within the Museum. This approach is very common. Has this been explored and budget pricing prepared for comparison against other alternatives? It may well be that an underground alternative is comparable in cost to the current proposed schemes.
Building underground in this location is technically feasible. This below ground design alternative should be fully evaluated with others in order to determine which alternative best meets the program needs.
Ronald E. Taylor