This is Building 30! At top left, you see the original 1938 Officers Club, with original Navy insignia in linoleum on the floor, the red velvet seats, the glass bar, the mirrored wall—and all of this has been unoccupied since 1994. Not any more! This Saturday, SPACE celebrates the buildings reinvention and reopening as a home for artist studios, a gallery, and this party space. Even the front of the building is a marvel of Art Deco design.
  • JG
  • This is Building 30! At top left, you see the original 1938 Officers' Club, with original Navy insignia in linoleum on the floor, the red velvet seats, the glass bar, the mirrored wall—and all of this has been unoccupied since 1994. Not any more! This Saturday, SPACE celebrates the building's reinvention and reopening as a home for artist studios, a gallery, and this party space. Even the front of the building is a marvel of Art Deco design.

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Building 30 is a legend. I visited it last month. It's a beauty. This is where, starting in 1938, the Navy officers stationed at what's now Magnuson Park danced, drank, and mingled in their pressed uniforms. Their dance floor was the room next to the bar, a large, perfectly proportioned space with inlaid patterns in the wood, and a fireplace with marble hearth, and windows looking out on what remains of the forest at the edge of the water.

This place has been mouldering since 1994, empty. It has been a 20-year fight to get the lights on again.

But they did it.

Saturday night is the grand opening celebration—and a fundraiser, so tickets cost $100—and it will be sparkling. The bar and the dance floor will be working once again, having been restored by a project led by SPACE, the group that advocates for cultural uses at Magnuson. Here are all the details on Saturday's event.

If Saturday isn't happening for you, there's still news here: Building 30 is now a warren of artist studios spanning three floors. (List of artists here.) When it fully opens in December, it will also feature a small public gallery.

There are 31 studios, says SPACE executive director Julianna Ross, all spoken for. (Their cost ranges from $12 to $16 per square foot, she estimated.) SPACE is applying for a low-power radio station to run from the building, hoping to provide stoytelling and oral histories of people who used to work at the base. In addition to the gallery, SPACE will run workshops for the kids who live at the Solid Ground housing at the south end of the park. There are more than 130 kids there now.

The funding was a bond that SPACEthe city has 11 years to pay off; that's where most of the studio rental payments will go. Total project cost was $8.5 million.

SPACE was founded in 1994 and has plenty of advocating left to do, Ross says. There are still empty buildings at Magnuson whose condition deteriorates a little more every day they go undeveloped. Building 18, for instance, has been without a roof since 2004, she says, adding that it was once estimated to be a $1 million fix-up; now the projected cost is $6 million. She believes there'd be plenty of artists to rent to if another of Magnuson's building went cultural.

Most of Magnuson has been given to athletic uses now, the turning of a war campus into a sports zone. That's great in many ways. But Building 30 adds another dimension, or reanimates one that was already there. Building 30 was always gorgeous. Art Deco lived here. Now it's simply back.