Protect Volunteer Park from the Expansion of the Gould Building
Updated 6/12/2017: The comment period ends June 15 on a draft Parks Department plan which removes all provisions for public involvement in Parks development projects. To learn more, see our Letter to Park Commissioners.
To act now: Online Action Center
Welcome to ProtectVolunteerPark.org. 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.
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.
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 ThinkAgainSAAM.org 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.
A number of organizations have expressed strong concerns about the museum building expansion:
- The Cultural Landscape Foundation
- TreePAC and Cass Turnbull
(Update 2017-01-28: We are most saddened to hear that Cass Turnbull has died suddenly of a medical condition. She was a delightful person whose work as an educator and advocate was of incredible value to the community. We miss her already.)
- National Association of Olmsted Parks (PDF)
- Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (PDF)
- Friends of Frink Park
- Friends of Cheasty
About This Site
This web site was created by Jonathan Mark and the Protect Volunteer Park team. Contact us at: email@example.com .