Adaptive Reuse Potential of Harborview Hall

1937. Harborview Hall / Photo: Washington State Archives Puget Sound Region Branch

On September 8, 2011, the King County Executive Services Department released an RFQ/C (Request for Qualifications/Concepts) related to the adaptive re-use of Harborview Hall, a National Register-eligible Art Deco style building (built in 1931) on the Harborview Medical Center campus. Those interested can find details in the King County website’s Procurement page.  Solicitation details can be downloaded on that site. A pre-submittal conference to discuss questions related to this RFQ/C will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 16, 2011, in the Lydia/Catherine Conference Room on the 2nd Floor of the King County Administration Bldg, 500 Fourth Avenue, Seattle. Submittals are due October 6, 2011 (no later than 2 pm).

Harborview Hall is receiving a 90-day stay of execution from the wrecking ball through this RFQ/C process. Harborview Medical Center (HMC) plans to demolish the building and replace it with a plaza. At the eleventh hour, King County officials were alerted to the demolition plans. Recognizing the building’s significance, they are seeking time to study the feasibility of rehabilitating the building and bringing it back to viable use. To tear down this gem of a building which has great reuse potential and replace it with a plaza is a waste of resources especially in this day and age when sustainability is often a goal for development projects.

The RFQ/C states: ” Harborview Hall is currently slated for demolition pursuant to a capital redevelopment programs at the HMC campus.  However, at the request of King County, the University of Washington (UW) and the Harborview Board of Trustees, in cooperation with King County, have delayed for 90 days plans to demolish Harborview Hall.  This delay allows for another review of the feasibility of rehabilitating the building in a manner that supports and enhances the mission of HMC, ensures the seismic stability of the facility, and preserves a significant historic property.  Any project should be cost neutral to Harborview, the UW and King County as there are no funds available to support the construction or operations to retain this building.”

The time frame for interested parties to respond is short (less than a month). This will not be an easy project. But we hope there are developers out there who can propose a feasible and viable project that will benefit HMC, UW, the County, the First Hill community and Seattle. First Hill has lost so much already and will continue to lose historic and character buildings to hospital development. Renovating Harborview Hall and maintaining hospital-related use is a win-win.

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3 Responses to “Adaptive Reuse Potential of Harborview Hall”


  1. 1 HMC employee November 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    the building is a rabbit’s den and is structurally unsafe in the event of an earthquake. Have you ever been inside??? The costs involved to gut the insides to make it safe and usable are much too high. Tear it down. It is full of teeny tiny rooms where nurses once slept, dorm-like. Much too small for the way it needs to be used.

  2. 2 djpainter September 11, 2011 at 7:28 am

    The proposed demolition of this Art Deco building on the Haborview Medical campus would be another loss on Seattle’s historic preservation record. The cityhas lost so much. Retention of this building, whose replacement would be a plaza, makes sense from a sustainability point of view, as a relatively rare example of Art Deco architecture in Seattle, for its historic importance, and for its urban design presence. It deserves comment from everyone interested in historic preservation in Seattle.

  3. 3 Mary-Alice Pomputius September 10, 2011 at 4:08 am

    I think the last time I went to a Landmarks Commission meeting was the one where it was decided to throw this building to the wolves. How cleverly the hospital’s representatives led the Board to consider the building on its own rather than in conjunction with main building across the street — and yet compared the two, highlighting the relative modesty of the Hall’s decorative features. As a concerned member of the public, I was so very vexed, particularly after learning about the building’s history and early purpose. Together with the main building, the Hall forms a marvelous streetscape, redolent of the era, and it would be tragic to lose it.


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The writers who post entries on MAin2 represent various views and opinions. The blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Historic Seattle.

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