Large, covered performance pavilion and reopened play area ready for summer in Seattle
(SEATTLE – June 9, 2021) – One of downtown Seattle’s oldest public plazas is ready for year-round activity in the heart of Pioneer Square. Occidental Square is now home to a brand-new pavilion, a large timber structure topped with a glass roof, producing a 90-foot-wide covered area at the south end of the square. At the north end, the Occidental play area has reopened after being closed for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we are opening up after this past year, we know more than ever that access to parks and open spaces is essential for our physical and mental health. This project will support community gatherings and people connecting outdoors as we welcome back Seattle. This is truly a community-initiated project, and I am thankful to all the partners and donors who came together to make it possible,” said Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent.
Managed and programmed by the Downtown Seattle Association and Metropolitan Improvement District since 2015, Occidental Square has provided a vibrant hub of activity to the Pioneer Square neighborhood. The park’s growing popularity with free games, café seating, art installations and regular free events led to partners and donors investing in amenities that will enhance the park’s aesthetics and expand the way this space can be used.
”The best urban parks are the ones that can utilized year-round and invited a variety of activities. With this large, covered area, the pavilion provides that multi-season use in Occidental Square,” said DSA President & CEO Jon Scholes. “The pavilion also adds to the ways in which we can program this space and produce a wider array of activities in all seasons. Our partners and generous donors have truly enhanced this park.”
“The Alliance for Pioneer Square is excited for this beautiful addition to Occidental Square, and for the opportunity for locals and visitors to experience the park in a new way as we recover from the pandemic,” said Alliance for Pioneer Square Executive Director Lisa Howard. “We are grateful to our project partners for their investment in making this space even more welcoming and vibrant as we all rediscover Pioneer Square.”
“Today is a momentous day with Seattle leading the country in vaccinations. 70% of residents are now fully vaccinated and our downtown public spaces and businesses are ready to welcome us back,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “The Occidental Square Pavilion will serve as a space for residents and visitors to gather for cultural events, sit and eat take out from Pioneer Square restaurants, or meet friends before a Sounders, Seahawks, or Mariners game. Thank you to our community leaders in Pioneer Square, the Downtown Seattle Association, and Parks for their vision and dedication to create this vibrant public park space.”
Debuting in fall 2019, the play area was designed by Berger Partnership and constructed by Venture General Contracting. The second playground coordinated by DSA/MID (along with the play area in Westlake Park), this structure provides much needed recreational space for visitors and the nearly 4,800 children living in downtown.
The new pavilion, designed by Olson Kundig and built by general contractor Schuchart, replaced a smaller kiosk at the south end of the square with a larger information and concierge center for enhanced park activation. Paid for entirely by private contributions, the pavilion’s glass roof stretches 90-feet wide and 30-feet deep, providing ample space that can serve as an outdoor classroom, a performance space, a dining area and generally a much-needed covered space for use by the public.
“This is a tremendously significant project, for me personally and for Olson Kundig, as well as the City of Seattle,” said Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal, Olson Kundig. “The history of Pioneer Square is long and complex, from the First Nations cultures who originally settled here to the timber industry that later shaped the region. This pavilion draws on those influences and introduces a new amenity and place of shelter for every visitor to the park.”
“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the private and public sectors to deliver this wonderful amenity to our city,” said Schuchart Partner and President Casey Schuchart. “The legacy of the pacific northwest is represented through the high design of the timber pavilion. Our company is honored to have played it’s part in supporting the delivery of this project for all to enjoy.”
Funding for the pavilion project has been provided by donors to Seattle Parks Foundation in partnership with the Alliance for Pioneer Square, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Downtown Seattle Association.
“Occidental Square is the center of downtown Seattle’s rich and diverse cultures. From the early days as a first nation’s community to the historic establishment of Seattle’s industry, Occidental is the heart of our city,” said Seattle Parks Foundation CEO Rebecca Bear. “The completion of the beautiful Timber Pavilion celebrates the past and evokes an exciting future for Occidental and Pioneer Square – a thriving park filled with people listening to music, painting, shopping, playing, celebrating, and supporting our local teams and neighborhood businesses.”
This new public amenity will be officially opened on Wednesday, June 9 at 11 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting and opening remarks. The community is invited to visit the park and the new pavilion in Occidental Square on Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12 with family friendly games, music, giveaways and fun.
About the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA)
Established in 1958, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to create a healthy, vibrant downtown. By advocating on issues including transportation, economic development and the urban experience, DSA works to ensure that downtown remains a great place to live, work, shop and play. DSA also manages the Metropolitan Improvement District, a business-improvement area spanning 285 square blocks downtown.
About the Alliance for Pioneer Square
The Alliance for Pioneer Square is a 501(c)(3) that works to help preserve what makes Pioneer Square the most authentic, engaging and dynamic neighborhood in Seattle. The Alliance for Pioneer Square does this by effectively implementing programs in the following areas: business development, communications and marketing, advocacy, public realm, and leadership.
About Seattle Parks Foundation
Founded as a nonprofit partner for Seattle Parks and Recreation and fueled by the energy of civic leaders whose efforts to build a 60-acre “Seattle Commons” were twice thwarted at the ballot box in the mid-1990s, Seattle Parks Foundation became an independent nonprofit in 2001. Its first endeavors included supporting the acquisition and development of Lake People (Xacua’bs) Park near Columbia City, the restoration of Schurman Rock at Camp Long in West Seattle, field and play area enhancements at Maple Elementary on Beacon Hill, and early planning for Lake Union Park. Donors have contributed over $59 million through Seattle Parks Foundation to support more than 200 community-led park projects spanning almost every neighborhood in the city.
About Olson Kundig
Now in its sixth decade of practice, Olson Kundig is a collaborative design practice whose work includes cultural and museum projects, exhibition design, commercial and mixed-use design (including wineries and sports facilities), private and multi-family residential, hospitality projects, places of worship, interior design, product design and landscape design. With deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, the firm and its staff of over 200 work with clients around the world.