On January 25, 2023, the Seattle Convention Center (SCC) celebrated the opening of its Summit building with a ribbon cutting event in the building’s atrium.
This addition nearly doubles the capacity of the Seattle Convention Center, adding 573,770 square feet of event space including 62 meeting rooms, a 58,000-square-foot column-free and divisible ballroom featuring 3,900 suspended planks of reclaimed wood, 248,450 square feet of exhibit space, 140,700 square feet of naturally lit lobby space and the 14,000-square-foot outdoor Garden Terrace. Covering 1.5 million square feet, Summit and the original Arch building, one and half blocks away, together create a campus built to usher in the future of meetings and conventions.
More than a decade ago, the Center’s board of directors determined that the economic impact benefiting the state of Washington could be substantially increased by the addition of a second SCC facility. This is highlighted by the fact that between 2012 and 2015, the Center turned away over 300 potential events due to the unavailability of space in the Arch Building on the dates desired.
Following an extended planning and design period, contractors broke ground on the expansion in August of 2018.
“Congratulations are in order to the board for having the vision to build two stacked buildings in downtown Seattle,” said Frank Finneran, Chair of the SCC Board of Directors.
“This project was more complex and difficult than building in the suburbs, but the vision has now become a reality. We could not have accomplished this without our trusted partners, including the developers at Pine Street Group, the talented design crew at LMN Architects, and Clark/Lewis for the construction. It took a large, talented team to make it happen.”
With the new space at the Summit, new opportunities have arisen. Currently, there are 58 events booked there with an additional eight using both the Arch and the Summit, significantly increasing the Center’s economic impact on the region.
“We’re thrilled for the new opportunities Summit together with Arch will create for our clients, community and industry,” said President and CEO Jeff Blosser.
“The Seattle Convention Center is pleased to increase its availability of space for event planners and extend its connection to those who live in, visit or work downtown.”
Summit’s downtown urban location offers easy walking proximity to a multitude of entertainment, retail and accommodations for meeting attendees with approximately 7,000 hotel rooms within a six-block radius. The building is also situated off Interstate 5, providing easy access to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and is near to the Link light rail and other public transportation. For those driving in, SCC operates three garages, including one at Summit.
“This is a thrilling moment for Seattle and those who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this point,” said Tammy Canavan, FCDME President & CEO of Visit Seattle.
“Summit is just the latest piece in a tapestry of new Seattle offerings that will welcome visitors and meeting attendees into the central fabric of our community. Combined with the city’s ever-expanding – and diverse – hotel inventory, SEA Airport’s new International Arrivals Facility, and the enhancements being made to our beloved Waterfront, Seattle’s singular beauty and spirit will be on full display for our guests.”
The citing of the original Arch building in 1988 with Summit nearby in the heart of downtown gives visitors access to the vibrancy of the city alongside views of the mountains and bay surrounding it. Summit is designed to engage and enrich this distinctive urban setting. The stacked configuration maximizes the efficiency of the site and effective flow of attendees between event spaces, and the large windows and skylights bring in natural light to all levels, including the below-grade exhibition floor. The building incorporates a layering of soft and hard elements as well as an homage to Seattle. The Hillclimb, a grand, suspended stair and escalator system, features wood native to the Pacific Northwest and provides access from street level to the ballroom level, as well as seating.
Summit is projected to achieve LEED Gold certification, having used environmentally friendly design elements during the construction and planning to do likewise in its operations. These include using sustainably sourced, recycled materials throughout the building, such as plant-based acoustic ceiling tiles and bio-based fabric panels. The rooftop incorporates solar panels that will improve the building’s energy performance by 30% over the baseline rating and a rainwater harvesting system will reduce irrigation usage by a projected 89%. Summit also ties in a touch of history with its drive for sustainability by using reclaimed wood from a business that formerly occupied part of the construction site. Upon its opening, visitors will be graced by a striking wooden chandelier designed by local artist Cathy McClure, the shadows from which are projected onto the floor and recall a sun-dappled forest. This is just one of Summit’s many notable visual pieces that are part of the building’s years-long, $6.5 million public art initiative that is continually sourcing works from diverse, local creators.
This addition reflects the Center’s ongoing commitment to the surrounding community with a $93 million benefits package to enhance the lives of area residents via affordable public housing, public art and open spaces, and improvements to the pedestrian, bicycle and transit infrastructure. Approximately $40 million of the investment package was devoted to the creation and preservation of affordable housing units, a legacy initiative that carried over from the Center’s board of directors in their civic mission to have a positive impact on the community while constructing the Arch building. While planning Summit, the board of directors established a goal of awarding $80 million in work scopes to minority- and women-owned businesses. Thus far, nearly $150 million in work scopes have been awarded to these businesses, more than doubling the initial goal. With the opening of Summit, the additional generated business will have far-reaching economic impact via meeting attendee spending at area businesses, restaurants, and hotels.
Photo credit: Visit Seattle