Here’s the first in a series of posts sharing my impressions and photos of the new Seattle Convention Center Summit, from the Public Open House last Thursday, January 26, 2023.
Highlights of the Exhibition Hall
- Natural light. You’ll appreciate being able to see the skylight from the lower-level exhibition hall. Especially in the winter.
- Street view. From the convention floor, you can see Sound Transit buses and other traffic along Olive Way. You’re not cut off from the city, pushed out into an industrial zone away from amenities. At Seattle Convention Center, you’re close to everything you’ll want as a visitor.
- Escalators. Three commercial-grade escalators on each side of the exhibit lobby. Directional lighting, and transparent sides for a more open feel. It definitely feels like they picked the high-end option for vertical transport, which is precisely what you want for high-traffic infrastructure that you’ll use multiple times per day.
Why I care:
My career as a journalist and writer has taken me to conference venues around the world, including Singapore, Copenhagen, Vienna, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Toronto, Osaka, Dubai, Geneva, and Sydney. I have also attended large conferences in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta, along with several smaller venues in other cities.
I’m by no means an expert, but I know what I like. And I love what they’ve done here.
I’ve also taken a personal interest in this project as a two-year resident of Seattle’s Plymouth Pillars Park neighborhood, just blocks from the Summit at the intersection of Downtown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill.
(Not many locals would call this area “Plymouth Pillars Park,” but it’s my considered opinion that this area needs a thorough rebranding. After all, why live on the edge of three older neighborhoods when we can easily think of ourselves as being near the center of a brand-new neighborhood? As far as I’m concerned, I’m a resident of the Plymouth Pillars Park neighborhood now.)
Seattle Convention Center is contributing to the Pike-Pike Renaissance Project, which will upgrade the streetscape for pedestrians and cyclists.
I’m also expecting that the surrounding business district will see significant build-out of retail experiences catering to convention and visitor traffic. That’s why I’m not too concerned that Nike and Regal Cinemas decided to pack it in. After all, when’s the last time you bought a pair of sneakers or sat through a movie during a conference week? We have suburban malls for that. I’d be more worried if I heard that the commercial landlords were making concessions to keep these outdated retail concepts in place.
The situation brings to mind the Summer of 1996, when I was at Cornell learning Japanese. One of my roommates had just graduated from the hotel school and was about to start working on big-concept, high-traffic restaurants in Times Square. He explained that the Times Square Business Improvement District wanted facilities that could handle hundreds of people at a time. That worked out pretty well.
And that’s exactly the kind of opportunity that downtown Seattle has today. I’m excited to be a part of it.
(Continue the tour on the Hillclimb and The Garden Terrace.)