Seattle University Lee Center for the Arts

Seattle, Washington

Project Size:

Renovated area: 22,070 square feetSeating capacity: 140 seats

Project Status:

Completed 2006


Arts + Culture, Civic Design, Education Design


AIA Project of the Month: Lee Center for the Arts: a Building Hard at Work

Daily Journal of Commerce, 01/10/2007

Curtain Goes Up on Arts Center at Seattle U

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/01/2006

Selected Awards

2008 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region

Award of Merit

2006 AIA Seattle Chapter

Award of Merit

New skin over old bones, the design retains the original structure, removing only portions of the roof framing to accommodate vertical clearances for theatrical and technical requirements. The enclosure system changes in form and material as it wraps the original concrete bearing walls.

Through adaptive reuse of a former warehouse and car dealership to a “black box” theater, the Lee Center fosters a creative exchange between academic and cultural neighbors within its inner-city neighborhood, engaging the pedestrian quality of 12th Avenue and distinguishing the center as an important public venue. The multi-purpose lobby/gallery space is positioned along the street rather than internal to the campus, allowing the façade to become progressively more transparent and distinct as it recedes from the campus entrance—culminating in a sculptural marquee and entry statement.

The vibrant visual qualities of the center's continuously changing activities become interwoven with the experience of the architecture. The lobby/gallery, intensely colored red sound baffle, and studio performance space are integral elements in the overall expression, embellishing the building’s purpose within the community.