Friday, September 07, 2007

Meditation on possible tall buildings in Bellingham's future


Food court at the base of huge tower. Pictures from the top.

Visiting Seattle on my bicycle trip, I stepped into Columbia Center for the first time. (It used to be called Columbia Tower).

Quite impressed.

Yes, it does have an observation space that's open to the public. Years ago, there was a rumor that one had to wear a suite and tie to go inside the "exclusive Columbia Center Club."

Kind of snooty.

There wasn't a public observation deck back then, so I heard.

I never really approached the building before. Just walked by thinking it would be nothing but a wall of security guards in the lobby.

Well, it's different now.

There is an observation deck on the 73 floor. It's open during business hours. Costs money, but not unreasonable. Maybe around $5. I got in for $3. They must have thought I was eligible for the student rate.

Columbia Center club is on up at the 75 and 76 floor level. That's the top, but 73 was high enough.

Somewhere in mid elevator ride, where one changes elevators part way up, there's a Starbucks. I even met someone, at the Starbucks, who was from Bellingham. We got to talking. It wasn't too "hurry up."

View from the observation lounge is fantastic, but that space doesn't wrap around entire building. It does go most of the way around.

On the ground floors there is a nice food court. Spacious. Lots of elbow room with a big fountain in the center.

Thinking about the proposed Bayview Tower in Bellingham, I hear that no observation floor is planned that would be open to the public.

Quite a pity.

Bayview Tower is proposed for somewhere around 24 stories. Mostly condominiums and the required parking. I hear that two ground level store fronts are planned as well.

Store fronts, but not quite a food court full of fountains and all that.

Normally, I like tall buildings, especially if they "give back to the community" by providing interesting space for the public.

I wish Bayview Tower luck, but it seems like the lot it would sit on is small for that kind of a building. Not a lot of "elbow room" to work with for providing things like food courts, or public space.

The parking lot that is there now doesn't look that big when I walk by. Density is good, but I have scratched my head while contemplating all the things that would need to go in that space. Maybe a slightly bigger lot could afford more "public space?"

I'm just offering opinions after seeing some interesting "public space" associated with tall buildings in Seattle. I had thought Columbia Center would be foreboding, but it turned out to be quite welcoming.

Hopefully Bayview tower will add some interesting space to Bellingham rather than just being a "vertical gated community."


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