The Fred Huchinson Cancer Research Center is among many other buildings waiting for Seattle Design Commission’s approval to move forward on their design proposal. I ran into this project while looking for projects that deal with air rights issues in Seattle. What I found was a project that represents local issues with far more complexity than the simple question of architecture and aesthetics.
The proposal is a new skybridge that spans over Eastlake Ave between the two existing buildings and because it spans over a public street, it is imposing on public property therefore it must go through a proper approval process. The design commission according to the report published in 2010, is generally not favorable of the sky bridges but will grant approval if the design offer other public amenities that is beneficial to all.
However everything is achieved by case by case scenario. On one hand, the sky bridges separates pedestrians from the ground plane and affects the urban density while on the other hand Fred Huchinson is a cancer research center that brings in a lot of jobs and research to the local economy, not to mention social changes. Denying the sky bridge may set a strong stance on urban planning strategies but is it socially responsible? But if you do allow it, it can become precedents for other sky bridge projects. I feel that there is a delicate balance that the city must observe. Fred Huchinson proposal is definitely not the flashy architecture compared to the likes of Linked Hybrid in China but it has far bigger implications to our local community.