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Alki Homestead takes the next step toward restoration

March 9, 2011

Story reprinted with permission from West Seattle Herald 2-25-2011

Alki Homestead takes the next step toward restoration

The Alki Homestead restoration project took the next step Feb. 25 in a meeting with the Architecture Review Committee of the Landmarks Preservation Board.

In the previous meeting with ARC Alloy Design Group (Mark Haizlip and Greg Squires) presented and got general support for the removal of non historic add ons and the idea of the construction of an external accessory structure to be located on the west side of the Homestead. To see a rendered version of what the view from the top of that two story structure would look like download the file at the link above.

Alloy pointed out that the height allowed is 40 feet but their proposal tops out at 32 feet. Only the elevator and stairs would require that height in one section.

Questions were posed about that elevator (it would be hydraulic) about internal functionality, and about the view deck the architects are proposing.

In the meeting on Friday the architects showed nine views in basic 3D renderings with hand drawn overlays to depict the log structure.

Alloy’s concept is that the new accessory structure should “contrast the old, we want it to fade a bit,” said Haizlip one of the principles of the company. That would mean it would not mirror the architectural style of the historic building, likely be darker in color and possibly have a material finish that would age gracefully.

The primary idea is that it would be obvious to the casual observer some years hence which part was the historic structure. “You need to think about a new user, someone a hundred years from now that shows up to this,” said Haizlip, ” It would be dead obvious which is the historical element and which is an accessory structure. If we try to mimic the Homestead too much I think that line gets blurred.”

The plan calls for the removal of the add ons and the restructuring of the interior to something more like it was in an earlier period including the ability to walk around the entire inside to really see the log construction. The remodels done in the 1960’s and 1980’s and earlier blocked off the southwest corner of the building, inside and out. “To reveal that again and restore it is going to be amazing,” said Haizlip,

At this early point in the plan the commercial kitchen is small at just over 350 square feet but the overall space in the accessory structure does allow for both dry and cold storage and possibly a prep kitchen.

Again that structure would also house the stairs and elevator for 2nd floor banquet facility access.

The architects believe that getting the ARC’s support for this phase is critical.
“Until we know what can happen in the accessory structure we can’t develop a restoration plan for the Homestead,” Haizlip said.

For example since ADA bathrooms must be part of the plan, it makes more sense to the architects to place them in the new structure rather than to remodel and drastically change the character of the historic building. “We’re trying to pull out and put into the accessory structure as much of the program that started to get crammed into the Homestead over the years to the point that they built those two add ons,” Haizlip explained.

One area of the new structure that came as a kind of revelation for Haizlip and Squires was, that with a rooftop deck “There is potential to gain views of the Homestead that people never expected and move it from just being a strictly ground related experience, (…) just experiencing the Homestead on two sides, to one where from the second floor you bring people views of the Homestead that tie the building back to the Sound. We feel this is critical in understanding the history of the Homestead.”

“What most people don’t realize is that the current front door is not where it used to be. It used to face the Sound. That connection is completely lost due to development. When you get up to the roof deck there will be that understanding again that you used to be able to sit out on the porch and look out at the Sound,” said Haizlip.

The outcome of the meeting was essentially that the ARC wants “to be sold” on the need for the view deck atop the accessory structure and would like some more details on how the new building might be clad so as to blend properly into the neighborhood and work with the character of the restored Homestead.

In an informal exchange after the meeting Homestead owner Tom Lin and the architects gave a copy of the basic floorplan to Clay Eals of the Southwest Historical Society and Rick Sever of Historic Seattle who said they would share it with their members to get feedback and keep these groups in the loop on the project’s progress.

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