Shortly before construction began on the Madison & Boylston tower in 2020, a headline in Capitol Hill Seattle Blog described the project as the "first affordable high rise in Seattle in more than 50 years." (Yes, it took that fucking long; and, yes, it really is affordable.) The 17-story tower, jointly developed by Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing Group, is on a property Sound Transit claimed in 2001 to build a First Hill subway station. That excellent plan was abandoned because all public transportation projects do not hold a candle to projects devoted to the impossible task of improving the experience of a space- and resource-exhausting form of transportation, the ultra-costly car. Obstacles met by the latter are, for reasons that are obvious (endless capitalist growth), always far less opposing than those met by the former. And so a rational multi-modal International District can be stopped; but a tunnel (State Route 99) doomed from the get-go to solve nothing could not.
Budgeted at around $60 million, and designed by the local architectural firm Weber Thompson (more about that in a moment), the Madison & Boylston project answers a question that KUOW's Bill Radke posed to me in a recent episode of Words In Review: "As you know a lot of people in Seattle want homes to be cheaper. Can a residential building be a work of art and still be affordable?"Continue reading »