Canlis, the 1950 Roland Terry–designed masterpiece whose windowed edges jut out over the east slope of Queen Anne Hill, has just put another notch in its James Beard Award belt. In 2017, the iconic Seattle restaurant took home an award for Outstanding Wine Program—the first-ever James Beard in the restaurant's long, nearly 70-year history. And this morning Canlis claimed an accolade for its architectural prowess: the 2019 Design Icon Award.
Every timbered joist and smoothed river rock that pays classic tribute to the cool aesthetic of post-war America has led to this moment. Per the James Beard Foundation: "Looking as warmly modern today as it did nearly seven decades ago .... [Canlis is] anchored into the hillside with its massive stone walls, fireplace, and piers and with panoramic views through its enormous raked glass walls, the dramatically cantilevered building is the very icon of Northwest design. The angled walls, its most memorable design feature, allow the nighttime views to be uninterrupted by reflections from the dining room, creating an incredibly transparent effect."
Dining at Canlis is every bit about how you feel—how you twinkle like a tabletop votive at every turn of the meal, how the 1950s-era space feels as fresh and modern today as it did seven decades ago. While the design has evolved over the years, it's this feeling that's also been so lovingly maintained by every generation of Canlis from Peter, who built the restaurant in 1950, to his son Chris, who, with his wife Alice, took it over in 1977, to Brian and Mark, the grandsons who have helmed the restaurant for over the last ten years.
Some nerdier points about this award: In order to make the cut for the Design Icon Award a restaurant must be "substantially unchanged for at least 20 years" and must have inspired the design of subsequent restaurants. Canlis, which epitomizes the period’s Northwest Modern movement, says the JBF design gods, has clearly done just that. Congrats, Canlis team!
If you haven't seen this year's semifinalist lineup for James Beard Awards, you best catch up. That list will get narrowed down come March 27—check back here for that announcement to see how close Seattle gets to more awards in the year of our Beard 2019.