Jerry Garcia is a principal at the internationally recognized architectural firm Olson Kundig, based in Pioneer Square. He is one of those types that only a great city can produce—a person who is familiar with and has excellent opinions on a wide variety of matters relating to art and culture. A leading figure in the architecture community, he made his first big mark in the gallery world with a 2006 proposal to restore Denny Park to its pre-regrade state with the dirt Bertha is currently digging out from under the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Garcia continues to contribute to Seattle's changing landscape—he is part of the team building the new arts hub at King Street Station that will open later this year—and he works on projects from Cancun to Taipei. In all matters, he is highly disciplined and principled. Little escapes his attention, and he always avoids mediocre or lazy decisions. You only live once, and you must not waste this experience on bad and half-baked ideas. That is Garcia in a nutshell.
Who is your favorite architect?
I really admire the work of Alberto Kalach in Mexico City.
Is there a new building in Seattle that you like?
I am biased, but I think that the Center for Wooden Boats project, which will wrap up soon, is going to be a great addition to the South Lake Union neighborhood, with a charge that contributes to the fabric of a city.
Tell me about the art shows you curate at your office.
Jim Olson and I have been organizing shows on a shelf between our desks called the Ledge for the past six years. We've had amazing artists like Oscar Tuazon, Claire Cowie, and Pae White exhibit, which has been really fun.
What is your go-to restaurant in Seattle? What do you order?
Purely for food, I love everything that Wassef and Racha Haroun have done: Mamnoon, Mamnoon Street, and Anar. As far as a place that has defined a part of my Seattle, Oriental Mart in Pike Place Market. It's wonderful to see three generations of a family working together on a daily basis. [I like their] chicken adobo and salmon sinigang.
What's your neighborhood hangout?
Chuck's Hop Shop continues to work for me.
I know you have a good nose for wine. Can you suggest a good $15 bottle?
I'll give two that average out to $15. Borsao "Monte Oton" Campo de Borja is pretty great for $8 and a wine by my favorite producer Alvaro Palacios "Camins del Priorat" at about $22.
What music have you been listening to lately?
Death Grips, Edgard Varèse, and obsessing a bit on Supersilent.
Any advice for new Seattleites?
Travel against traffic. Hike in the rainforest and go to the coast in the winter. Don't settle into your own neighborhood too soon. Make deliberate trips to other parts of town and get out and roam.
What's your strategy for dealing with Seattle's winter gloom?
Seems like global warming is doing a good job of correcting the Seattle winter gloom. We are trading a month of continuous mist for more typical rain showers with sun breaks. Don't like it.
If you could fix one thing about Seattle with a magic wand, what would it be?
We have to find a way to allow for prosperity and diversity to occur at the same time.