Launch Slideshow

The art doors on the rear of the building act as owner-controlled portals for furniture and large pieces of art.

Art Stable, Seattle

Art Stable, Seattle

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Built on a site that once held a horse stable, Art Stable is heated by a geothermal loop system.

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    Built on a site that once held a horse stable, Art Stable is heated by a geothermal loop system.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Built on a site that once held a horse stable, Art Stable is heated by a geothermal loop system.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    The art doors on the rear of the building act as owner-controlled portals for furniture and large pieces of art.

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    The art doors on the rear of the building act as owner-controlled portals for furniture and large pieces of art.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    The "art doors" on the rear of the building act as owner-controlled portals for furniture and large pieces of art.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Residents can customize the placement of windows on the project's long, north side, just as they can build out the unfinished loft spaces to their specifications.

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    Residents can customize the placement of windows on the project's long, north side, just as they can build out the unfinished loft spaces to their specifications.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Residents can customize the placement of windows on the project's long, north side, just as they can build out the unfinished loft spaces to their specifications.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Units are sold as raw space; shown is a concept for how a typical layout might look.

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    Units are sold as raw space; shown is a concept for how a typical layout might look.

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    Courtesy Olson Kundig Architects

    Units are sold as raw space; shown is a concept for how a typical layout might look.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    By turning the hand wheel inside each unit, owners can open the attached art doors.

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    By turning the hand wheel inside each unit, owners can open the attached art doors.

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    Courtesy Olson Kundig Architects

    By turning the hand wheel inside each unit, owners can open the attached art doors.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    A construction shot of one of the hand wheels.

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    A construction shot of one of the hand wheels.

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    Tim Bies

    A construction shot of one of the hand wheels.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Brightly colored doors create a sense of interest at the street level.

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    Brightly colored doors create a sense of interest at the street level.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Brightly colored doors create a sense of interest at the street level.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    The mixed-use building's active front elevation fits in nicely with the area's residential and commercial context.

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    The mixed-use building's active front elevation fits in nicely with the area's residential and commercial context.

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    Tim Bies

    The mixed-use building's active front elevation fits in nicely with the area's residential and commercial context.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    A davit crane perches atop the back of the building, connecting to a vertical, 80.5-foot-tall hinge.

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    A davit crane perches atop the back of the building, connecting to a vertical, 80.5-foot-tall hinge.

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    Tim Bies

    A davit crane perches atop the back of the building, connecting to a vertical, 80.5-foot-tall hinge.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Art Stable's architect, Tom Kundig, FAIA, shown inside one of the units.

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    Art Stable's architect, Tom Kundig, FAIA, shown inside one of the units.

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    Michael Hanson

    Art Stable's architect, Tom Kundig, FAIA, shown inside one of the units.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    Kundig and his team permitted the exterior mild steel to oxidize in the damp Seattle air. "If you let things develop naturally, it becomes more authentic," he says.

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    Kundig and his team permitted the exterior mild steel to oxidize in the damp Seattle air. "If you let things develop naturally, it becomes more authentic," he says.

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    Tim Bies

    Kundig and his team permitted the exterior mild steel to oxidize in the damp Seattle air. "If you let things develop naturally, it becomes more authentic," he says.

  • 2011 Project of the Year: Art Stable, Seattle, Wash., by Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle, Wash.

    A section drawing of Art Stable.

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    A section drawing of Art Stable.

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    Courtesy Olson Kundig Architects

    A section drawing of Art Stable.

olson kundig architects
seattle

The 2011 residential architect Design Awards jury lauded this Seattle live/work loft project as a prototype for the future. “It’s an agenda for the next decade,” said one judge. “You could see it happening in a variety of neighborhoods and cities.”

Designed by Tom Kundig, FAIA, of Olson Kundig Architects, the seven-story building features ground-level retail space, second-floor parking, and five stacked residential units. Kundig and the developer opted to leave the units’ interiors as raw space, with the thought that each owner would customize his residence to his own tastes. “Everybody has their idiosyncrasies,” explains Kundig, who appreciated his client’s willingness to try a new approach. “We left an empty slate to do the floor plan as you see fit.” Exterior detailing of oxidized mild steel creates a link to the surrounding mixed-use neighborhood, while oversized operable windows on the front façade relate the units to the street below.

Kundig is known for designing custom-made “gizmos”—hand-operated mechanical devices that move parts of his buildings—and he’s included one in Art Stable. “It treats the architecture as something that’s potentially kinetic,” one judge noted. At the rear of each unit, on the alley side, a large door opens up by means of an interior hand wheel and a 80.5-foot-tall hinge connected to a rooftop crane. Working artists and art collectors are the building’s target market, and these doors will enable them to hoist big pieces of artwork and furniture into and out of their homes. “These larger openings allow you to open the building to the natural world and to the larger cultural landscape,” Kundig says. “How often you open and close the building doesn’t matter; for most people, it’s the promise that you can do it that’s more important.”

Easy access to the outside world, he adds, helps high-density multifamily housing maintain a comfort level for its inhabitants. “We all come from huts and villages, historically,” he says. “Reality now is leading us into denser situations.” But there may be a middle point between single-family housing and high-rise apartment blocks. “I think our future may in fact be more about small buildings than large buildings.”

The judges agreed that finding sensitive ways to achieve density should be a top priority for residential architects. And they admired Art Stable’s combination of refinement and toughness. “It’s very intimate—just five units,” noted a juror. “It’s about the city, about a continuation of the street. It’s just done so nicely.”


Click here to see all 2011 rada winners.