Positioned at the intersection of Seattle’s primary downtown commercial, convention, and high-rise residential neighborhoods, the Eighth & Howell Convention Center Hotel synthesizes diverse urban influences into a skyline-scaled mixed-use architectural collage. A composition of monolithic solids suspended among voids created by the public spaces supports an efficient, engaging interplay between the community and a vast influx of international visitors, while anchoring the rapid northward expansion of downtown’s urban fabric.
Program and Site
An 8-story podium with a footprint covering 3/4 of a city block provides 105,000 sf of meeting and ballroom space, integrated with ground-level retail and hotel lobby functions and a 500-ft tall, 1,264-room hotel tower above. A mid-block connector through the podium interfaces with an existing alley to accommodate all loading dock, parking garage access, valet and drop-off services within the interior of the block, leaving the street perimeter free for continuous public space with wide sidewalks, street furnishings, and generous vegetation.
The placement of the tower on the south corner of the block allows it to interface with the dense commercial high-rises of downtown and the new convention center expansion, while framing the Olive/Howell triangle as a significant space in the shifted urban street grid. This massing choice also minimizes shadows cast over adjacent blocks to the north, where the lower height of the podium aligns well with the residential and mixed-use neighborhood.
The formal language of the building clearly communicates its program elements, allowing the community to interact with the sculptural form at many scales. The polished white concrete mass of the podium seems to float above the street level, cantilevered over a 25-foot high, transparent glass envelope. Retail and lobby uses suffuse the street with light and activity, spilling out onto the wide, landscaped sidewalks on all sides. Pedestrians and vehicles circulate constantly within the alley and mid-block connector, pulling traffic off the high-volume surrounding streets and generating additional street frontage.
Modulations in the podium mass break down its bulk into legible pieces. A vertical window wall rising above the mid-block connector divides the podium into a meeting room block and a ballroom block, separated by a transparent interstitial mixing space. Similarly, the meeting room block is broken horizontally by a deep-set window wall overlooking Stewart Street, defining a long pre-function hallway and event space. The hotel tower forms a third primary solid, suspended above the podium’s rooftop terrace by a glass-enclosed fitness center and social lounge. The clean, minimal form of the tower directly represents the room layouts, striking a bold contrast with highly articulated neighboring towers of the Seattle skyline.