Graham Baba Architects Works Its Magic on Seattle Center House

The firm behind Melrose Market revamps the dated food court.

By Christopher Werner February 17, 2012

Seattle Center House gets a much needed makeover from Graham Baba Architects. Photo courtesy the firm.

Graham Baba Architects, the studio behind Melrose Market and Ballard’s Kolstrand Building (not to mention practically every new restaurant), is busy breathing life into another dated structure. The firm is overhauling Seattle Center House, an armory dating from 1939 that is today a rather stodgy food court.

On Thursday evening stakeholders and other interested people convened to preview the revamp. The firm plans to tone down “the visual noise” and open up Center House, stripping it of its heavy clunky feel. For example, the busy murals have been removed, and a western wall of doors leads to a terrace with a pleasant view of International Fountain. With a notably small budget, the idea isn’t to rework everything but rather work with what’s already there.

Street food buffs will be excited to learn the renovation calls for a “mobile market” that will accommodate six or seven vendors. Equally exciting: Skillet is slated to open an outpost in the atrium.

A mix of local and regional food merchants will line the eastern and western walls, with a restaurant and bar anchoring the southern side. In summer and spring expect a beer garden. Ideally the jazzed-up center will become a destination not just for tourists but also opera- or theater-goers, who often turn to Lower Queen Anne for sustenance. Reportedly current tenants Subway and Starbucks will stay put.

The goal is to complete everything by April 21. That’s when the Next 50, a six-month-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair, commences. But attendees last night seemed unsure of that time frame.

For a more on the Center House remodel, check out this article by Seattle Met writer David Laskin.

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