ast Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the three firms shortlisted to build the City Hall portion of Seattle's new Civic Center presented their ideas to the public, a selection team -- led by Mayor Paul Schell and three city council members -- revealed its selection to the press. The team's choice, the Seattle partnership of Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson, and Bessetti Architects, is by far the least interesting of the three, though a good argument can be made for them.

Antoine Predock, the Albuquerque architect who's designing the Tacoma Art Museum's new building, rambled through a 30-minute public presentation, repeatedly referring to architecture as "spiritual" and generally behaving like a sexagenarian stoner. Patkau Architects of Vancouver really impressed me, as well as much of the crowd's young architect constituency, with their deep understanding of the role of civic space and sustainable design. They don't have many big commissions under their belt though, which council member Peter Steinbrueck suggested was a big mark against them -- he wants a firm with a solid record, likely to design a building that "will last, in form and function... for fifty or a hundred years."

The most memorable part of victorious design architect Jim Bohlin's presentation was his suggestion that the new City Hall should have a regional motif derived from sails -- something like a cone atop council chambers, made from overlapping sheets of material. This is hardly the most populist of symbols. Steinbrueck told me, "I doubt very much we're going to see a sailboat" atop the new City Hall, but he doesn't see any problem with the symbolism.

Perhaps the key factor weighing toward Bohlin's firm was its work on Bill Gates' high-tech house, which means we're likely to get some big video walls in or on our new City Hall. See if that doesn't look dated within a decade!

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Seattle Art Museum got another big chunk of money for its Belltown sculpture garden: four mil from Paul Allen, giving the museum enough scratch to commit to buying the land for the park from Unocal. The document I received on the subject from SAM's Linda Williams came with all kinds of MS Word tags scattered at the end, allowing me to learn that the server the document originated on is named Xanadu. Now, I realize that name is most famous from Coleridge, but it immediately makes me think of the wonderful Olivia Newton-John/Gene Kelly movie from 1980. "A Fantasy, a Musical, a Place Where Dreams Come True" -- let's hope the new sculpture park can live up to it.

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Note to aspiring sci-fi filmmakers: I love The Tenth Victim (1965), Planet of the Apes (1968), and Rollerball (1975). I love them so much that I would never try to muddy their import or their period qualities -- '60s futurism is a fragile thing -- by remaking them. There's no way they could be improved upon. What's that? It's too late? James Cameron has a Planet of the Apes in production for a 2001 release? Rollerball's in development? Some gomer named Matt Greenberg (whose credits include Halloween: H2O, and The Prophecy II) is working on a Tenth Victim script for release in 2000? Crap. I think I've figured out the science behind this trend, though. It has to do with seeing the original movie in your teens. Cameron, apparently trying to relive his youth, was 14 when the original Planet came out. I guess that means that someone my age, born in 1970, will no doubt remake Repo Man. Sigh.

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