Protect Volunteer Park from the Expansion of the Gould Building

Updated 2017-01-17: The City Council is actively considering this project. Please see our overview comment: 18 Reasons to Vote No on Asian Art Museum Expansion . Now is the time to email with your concerns.

Welcome to We support the necessary renovations for seismic safety and climate control of the Gould Building which houses the Asian Art Museum! We do not support the taking of Volunteer Park land and views to expand the building footprint. Mayor Murray and the City Council have proposed to build the yellow additions shown, using an extra $10 million in city spending.

All Expansion uncaptioned

A Renovation Became an Expansion, Without Public Involvement

Seattle voters approved $9 million in the 2008 Parks Levy to renovate the Gould Building for seismic safety and air conditioning. We did not vote to give up precious parkland to make the building larger. No community meetings consulted the public about whether the museum building should be expanded into the park. Community meetings were organized by Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and always presented only SAM’s proposal to build additions to the building along with the renovations.

To learn more:
Public Involvement is Required When Building in a Park
City Documents About the Project
About the Proposed Zoning Changes

The Proposed Additions Harm Volunteer Park

The Olmsted Brothers designed Volunteer Park as a naturalistic respite from life in an already dense city. In 1910 they expressed their opposition to building the art museum in the park, for the reason that “The landscape ceases to be a naturalistic park landscape, and becomes a building landscape.” Today the building is there to stay, and the park is legally protected as a historic landmark of the highest (national) significance.

SAM’s proposed South Addition (shown above) is just under 50 feet tall, equivalent to a 4 story office building 78 ft long excluding the cantilevered Park Lobby, and projecting 42 feet into the Olmsted-designed landscape. It would become the tallest and most visually imposing face of the building, towering above the park’s downward-sloping east side. The glassed-in “Park Lobby” would be a prominent lit-up feature in the evenings. Views would be blocked of grass, shrubs, trees, and sky, and the naturalistic feeling spoiled. Construction impacts would threaten the park’s exceptional trees.

Alternatives Should be Considered

Our sister site displays some creative thinking about how to benefit both the museum and the park

Please donate, if you can, to help with Legal Action to Protect Volunteer Park. Click the link to learn more. Volunteer Park is protected by several laws as a Seattle park and nationally significant historic landmark.

Did you know that the Asian Art Museum building originally had free admission, four days per week? Why does it not today? See our article Public Benefits Cut, Public Spending Maintained to learn what happens when we allow private capital investment in Seattle’s parks. Other Seattle parks are also targeted for private capital investment by the City administration; see Privatization in Seattle’s Other Parks.

We Do Not Want the Museum to Move

Occasionally at public meetings people have suggested that the Asian Art Museum be moved to Chinatown – International District. Protect Volunteer Park does not endorse this idea, in fact we find the suggestion inappropriate. Expression of the cultures of Asia should be welcome in every Seattle neighborhood, including new facilities. But not built in a city park!

We appreciate the Asian Art Museum where it is. That is why we are fully supportive of renovating the building for seismic safety and air conditioning, within its existing footprint. That is what was presented to Seattle voters in 2008, and which the voters approved.

Organizational Support

A number of organizations have expressed strong concerns about the museum building expansion:

About This Site

This web site was created by Jonathan Mark and the Protect Volunteer Park team. Contact us at: .