Victory for Preservation in Supreme Court!

Victory for Preservation in Supreme Court!

An almost decade-long fight to protect historic resources at the University of Washington has culminated in a State Supreme Court ruling in favor of preservation advocates in the case—University of Washington vs. City of Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. On July 20, the State Supreme Court of Washington issued its opinion—a precedent-setting unanimous decision—holding that the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) applies to property owned by the University of Washington (UW). The Court ruled that the University of Washington is a state agency that must comply with local development regulations adopted pursuant to the Growth Management Act (GMA). The Court also held that the University is a property owner as defined by the LPO, overturning the trial court’s too narrow and technical decision that the UW is not an owner.

Oral arguments before the State Supreme Court took place on June 6 at the Temple of Justice in Olympia. If you really want to geek out on legal stuff, you can watch the proceeding on TVW here (about 45 minutes).

The importance of the State Supreme Court’s opinion in this case cannot be overstated. Read the entire opinion here and the article by the Seattle Times here.

In the week since the opinion was issued, Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation have learned more about what this all means and what might be ahead. It’s our understanding that all state agencies (including state universities) must comply with local development regulations adopted pursuant to GMA. This is HUGE.

In the weeks and months ahead, we hope to meet with the City and the UW to discuss what this new world order will mean in the future. The UW recently released its 2018 Campus Master Plan. Will it be updated to reflect that the University is now subject to the LPO? Will the historic resource survey and inventory of the campus (soon to be completed) be updated to include language about local landmark or district eligibility? Will the University change its internal review of historic resources and transform it into a more public process, taking into account the very public landmark nomination and designation review process? These are just some of the questions we have.

The Supreme Court win won’t bring back the Nuclear Reactor Building (may it rest in peace), but it can help save other properties owned by UW in the future and may serve as an important precedent for future cases regarding historic properties across the state.

Save the Reactor partners thank our attorney David Bricklin, Assistant City Attorneys Roger Wynne and Patrick Downs, and the Seattle Historic Preservation Program staff for their hard work to secure this collaborative victory for preservation. We appreciate the support of the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Futurewise, and the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys who all submitted amicus briefs. We give a shout out to Abby Inpanbutr. Back in 2008, she was a graduate student in architecture at the UW. She alerted our three preservation groups about the threatened status of the Nuclear Reactor Building. Little did we know at the time that our advocacy efforts would be an almost ten-year fight. And finally, we offer a big thanks to our generous donors who have helped to fund this effort!

Wait, there’s more! On October 6, 2017 in a ceremony in New York City, Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation will be honored with a Docomomo US Modernism Award of Excellence in Advocacy for our Save the Reactor efforts. We wish the Nuclear Reactor Building had not been demolished, but its destruction was not in vain.

A version of this article was first published in the Docomomo US e-newsletter on July 20, 2017 and on Historic Seattle's MAin2 blog.

Screenshot of TVW video of State Supreme Court oral arguments, June 6, 2017.

Screenshot of TVW video of State Supreme Court oral arguments, June 6, 2017.

Case Goes to State Supreme Court

Here’s the latest update on the years-long effort around UW’s Nuclear Reactor Building (NRB), which was bulldozed in July 2016 to make way for a new Computer Science and Engineering II Building. The University filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and Docomomo WEWA (who submitted a Seattle landmark nomination in late 2015) to settle a longstanding dispute about whether the University is subject to the City’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Historic Seattle, along with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, joined in the lawsuit. An April 2016 decision by a King County Superior Court judge ruled in UW’s favor. 

In May 2016, the City appealed the decision, with all three preservation groups joining in the appeal. In March 2017, the Court of Appeals asked the State Supreme Court to review the case, which they accepted. As our attorney, David Bricklin (Bricklin & Newman, LLP), explains “This is a rarely used process. Presumably, the court of appeals decided that the issue (whether the UW has to comply with the city's historic preservation ordinance) was of great public import and existing precedent uncertain; that whatever they might decide, a further appeal to the Supreme Court was likely; and, therefore, it would be more efficient for the Supreme Court to decide it in the first instance." Supreme Court oral argument is set for June 6, 2017 at 9:00 am at the Temple of Justice in Olympia.

Funeral for a piece of Seattle’s atomic past

Funeral for a piece of Seattle’s atomic past

By Knute Berger

How do you lay a landmark to rest?

Holding a wake is one idea. Advocates of the saving More Hall Annex, aka the Nuclear Reactor Building, at the University of Washington did that earlier this week.

The structure had been subject to an 8-year struggle — covered extensively on Crosscut — between preservationists and UW officials who wanted the building demolished. The university got its way in July after a court found that the building was ineligible to be landmarked by city ordinance, even though it was listed on the national and state registers of Historic Places.

Read the full article on Crosscut.com . . . 

Daniel Streissguth, one of the architects of the More Hall Annex, and his wife look at the place where he building once stood. Credit: Knute Berger

Daniel Streissguth, one of the architects of the More Hall Annex, and his wife look at the place where he building once stood. Credit: Knute Berger

Wake for the Nuclear Reactor Building

Wake for the Nuclear Reactor Building

Join us Tuesday, August 9 to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of the Nuclear Reactor Building.

Nuclear Reactor Building
Celebration of Life
1961 - 2016

On July 19, 2016, the Nuclear Reactor Building (NRB) was unceremoniously and quietly demolished by the University of Washington (UW). The passing of this historically and architecturally significant building ends a years-long battle between preservation advocates and the UW.

The NRB hailed from the Atomic Age of the 1960s, representing nuclear engineering technology and contributing to the University’s science and research programs. The NRB was unique. It was an architectural, engineering, and artistic marvel dreamed up by a stellar team of University professors and alumni. It set itself apart from the rest of campus with its Brutalist architectural features.

In 2014, plans for demolition of the NRB were resurrected by the UW. The building made it on the Washington Trust's Most Endangered Properties list for a second time in 2015 (the first was in 2008) and preservation advocates rallied to Save the Reactor. In the end, the structure met its demise. Read our eulogy for this significant structure to learn more.

Although the NRB is gone, it is not forgotten.

Join the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Seattle, and Docomomo WEWA for a gathering at the NRB/More Hall Annex site to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of the Nuclear Reactor Building: 

Tuesday, August 9 • 5:30 pm

Please wear all black attire. We’ll go to a local pub afterwards. No registration or RSVP is required. In lieu of flowers, please share stories and memories at the wake, on the Save the Reactor Facebook page or by emailing info@savethereactor.org.

Download a JPG copy of this invitation to share.

 
 

Upper photo: The Nuclear Reactor Building documented in 2008 by John Stamets for Docomomo WEWA.

Lower photo: "It's Brutal" graphic from Save the Reactor.

Nuclear Reactor Building (1961 – 2016)

Nuclear Reactor Building (1961 – 2016)

Brutal ending for a building once celebrated. University of Washington erases its own history by demolishing the Nuclear Reactor Building. 

On Tuesday, July 19, 2016, the Nuclear Reactor Building was unceremoniously and quietly (as quietly as one can bulldoze a structurally sound concrete building) demolished by the University of Washington. The destruction of this historically and architecturally significant building ends a years-long effort by preservation advocates to save an important piece of UW history and architecture.

Photo courtesy of Docomomo WEWA.

Photo courtesy of Docomomo WEWA.

What would you do if, at the age of 55, someone told you that you are going to be executed because you are no longer useful and do not contribute to society? That you are taking up space and will be replaced by something shinier and newer. Sure, you had your day in the sun during the Atomic Age. You were the latest thing in nuclear engineering technology and appreciated for your contributions to science and research. You were also unique because unlike similar structures at other university campuses, you didn’t hide underground or behind windowless walls. You stood proud and strong and seemed indestructible. You were an architectural, engineering, and artistic marvel designed by a stellar team of talented University professors and alumni. On a campus defined by its Gothic Revival style architecture and Olmsted Brothers legacy of campus planning and landscape design, you set yourself apart with your Brutalist features. But then things changed…

By the 1970s and 1980s, nuclear energy was not valued, but feared. You were decommissioned in 1988, and by 1992, your owner, the University of Washington, closed the Nuclear Engineering Program. You sat vacant and unused, but your land became valuable. Then in 2008, the attention was back on you. Your head was on the chopping block. The University applied for a demolition permit from the City of Seattle. One of those big white land use notification signs was placed in an inconspicuous spot in the back, not very visible to passersby. Except one student noticed it. An advocacy movement began. Students and some faculty and staff believed you were significant and could be adaptively reused. The University had no immediate plans for your site other than to get rid of you and replace with a landscaped plaza. This would clear the way for future development.

Photo by John Stamets for Docomomo WEWA.

Photo by John Stamets for Docomomo WEWA.

Preservation advocates around the state were alerted. Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation teamed up to support the efforts of the students. You were even listed on the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2008. That same student successfully got you listed on the Washington Heritage Register in 2008 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The UW objected to the listing of course. You made the press—local and national media covered your story and plight to be appreciated and used again. You welcomed adaptive reuse with open arms. And you believed there was room for a new building if it was sited and designed well. But you continued to be ignored by the very same entity that created you. You became a polarizing figure. Like some of your Brutalist siblings you were called “ugly” and “cold.” Some called for your destruction saying you were “getting in the way of progress.” Social media has made it too easy to hide behind anonymous comments. But you persevered. The vitriol directed at you was hurtful but you had thick concrete skin. These insults emboldened you and your supporters.

The recession bought you some time, an eight-year stay of execution. The University backed off on its plans for demolition in 2011 but we knew those plans were just on the backburner until the economy improved and the desire for your site trumped all other factors. Sure enough, in 2014, plans for your demolition and use of your site came back in full force. You would be replaced by the technology darling of today, computer science and engineering.

Advocates galvanized again. You were once again listed on the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2015. This time around, the advocacy efforts stepped up. The Save the Reactor effort was born. Knowing full well that the University’s own environmental review process would only yield conclusions supporting your demolition, Docomomo WEWA submitted a Seattle Landmark nomination application and the University promptly filed a lawsuit against the City and Docomomo WEWA in late 2015. Historic Seattle and the Trust joined in the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, an April 2016 decision by a King County Superior Court judge ruled in the UW’s favor, clearing the way for your demise. Although you are now gone, you will not be forgotten. Your death will not be in vain. Advocacy efforts continue, focusing on the long game as we look to protect the integrity of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. This advocacy effort is bigger than you. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns—the ultimate question to be decided is whether the University of Washington (and potentially other state institutions of higher learning) is subject to local regulations. Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation have joined the City of Seattle in an appeal of the trial court’s decision to the State Court of Appeals.

And that student who sounded the alarm about your endangered status back in 2008? She graduated from the University of Washington with a Master in Architecture degree. Her master’s thesis topic was on your adaptive reuse potential. When asked for her thoughts about the demolition, Abby Inpanbutr had this to say:

To me the Nuclear Reactor Building was a special case. It was not just an important example of Northwest Modernism, an elegantly designed building by important architects from this place, but it also represented an idealistic point of view we are no longer familiar with today. The building was designed and built with such optimism for the future of the world and the potential of design and engineering. This shined through even when the building sat empty. The Nuclear Reactor Building could have been reinstated as a crown jewel on the campus, there was so much potential. I am very sorry this opportunity has been lost.

A “wake” to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of the Nuclear Reactor Building (aka More Hall Annex) will be held at the site at the University of Washington on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, at 5:30 pm. Please wear all black attire. We’ll go to a local pub afterwards. Save the Reactor advocates Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation hope you join us!

In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to share stories and memories of the Nuclear Reactor Building at the wake, on the Save the Reactor Facebook page or email us at info@savethereactor.org.

Read Knute Berger’s obituary of the Nuclear Reactor Building in Crosscut.com.

Nuclear Reactor Building (AKA More Hall Annex)
University of Washington, Seattle
Built: 1961
Demolished: 2016

Designed by The Architect Artist Group (TAAG):
Wendell Lovett, architect
Daniel Streissguth, architect
Gene Zema, architect
Gerard Torrence, structural engineer
Spencer Moseley, artis

Photo courtesy of Save the Reactor.

Photo courtesy of Save the Reactor.

UW’s ‘Nuke Building’ bites the dust

UW’s ‘Nuke Building’ bites the dust

By Knute Berger

For nearly a decade, students and faculty at University of Washington, as well as Seattle preservationists, have fought to protect the More Hall annex — also known as the “Nuke Building.” The structure once housed a small “teaching reactor” on campus for nuclear engineers, and its isotopes helped pioneer nuclear medicine. It was uniquely designed by an amazing group of mid-century modern architects to daylight the “secret” process of nuclear power, and its history was considered important enough that it was able to jump through the considerable hoops to be added to the National Register of historic places.

All that, however, was erased by demolition on July 19.

Read the full article on Crosscut . . .

Tuesday's demolition of More Hall annex, UW's nuclear-reactor building. Photo by Docomomo WeWA.

Tuesday's demolition of More Hall annex, UW's nuclear-reactor building. Photo by Docomomo WeWA.

UW Begins Deconstruction Without Permit

UW Begins Deconstruction Without Permit

Update (July 19, 2016): The University of Washington demolished the Nuclear Reactor Building on July 19. We'll be posting more details and images soon. 

The National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building isn't looking too good these days. The University of Washington (UW) erected a chain link fence around the site in May to prepare for demolition. On June 20, the University began deconstructing the building—WITHOUT a demolition permit. The UW submitted a demolition application in early May but evidently just could not wait to start destroying this significant structure.

Complaints were filed and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections issued a stop work order and notice of violation. The UW claimed that it was abating the lead in the caulking of the windows (original character-defining features). We do not doubt there will be hazardous materials abatement that will need to be performed in preparation for the demolition, but the building has sat vacant for years and posed no threat. Windows on the two primary facades were removed, leaving massive openings into the building. It took the University almost a week to board up the openings, a requirement of the City.

What's Really Going On?

Save the Reactor has been monitoring the process and has been communicating with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) about the process and code requirements for the University’s demolition application and master use permit application for the new construction. What we discovered was a failure in the City’s own system of review including not following its own Land Use Code correctly. Here’s what we heard from a senior level planner when asked to explain its process and code requirements: "It is certainly true that SDCI has not always correctly applied the Land Use Code Section I cited in my earlier email to you. With this current demolition project we have had the chance to carefully examine how the code applies. I can only reconfirm we are confident the exercise of our substantive SEPA authority in a case like this (another agency has completed procedural SEPA and the application to us does not include a Land Use Code - identified Type II MUP) is not a decision subject to public notice or appeal to the Hearing Examiner. Even though this departs from our practice in the past, we feel we have no option but to proceed in a code compliant way.”

We are not making this up. We asked SDCI if it has a complete accounting of every case in which the Land Use Code section has been incorrectly applied. We are waiting for a response. We believe citizens of Seattle expect the City to correctly apply its own codes.

Adding to the confusion is we believe SDCI may have directed the University to place a large white notice of proposed land use action sign last week but that will be taken down soon as well because evidently that was also a mistake. Essentially, the City is not requiring the University of Washington to post public notice of the proposed new construction project, demolition of the Nuclear Reactor Building, and removal of at least 44 trees. No public comment will be taken.  

While the City may be following the Land Use Code, it doesn’t mean it makes any sense or should not be reformed.

It’s always been clear that the University wanted to scrape the Nuclear Reactor Building site for its new CSEII project and all the information in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) supports that conclusion and not the other alternatives. Yes, the University did everything it needed to do to comply with SEPA but it’s more about checking boxes than an objective review of alternatives that are feasible.

There were many comments submitted for the draft SEIS (including those from Historic Seattle, Docomomo WEWA and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation), but like any EIS process the comments were just noted or we got referred to a page in the SEIS that the lead agency (UW) felt it had adequately addressed the issue.

As of today (July 8, 2016), review of the demolition permit application is completed, so we assume the demolition permit has been issued or will be issued any day now and the University will begin destruction of the historic structure soon.

How Did We Get Here?

After the disappointing Superior Court decision was issued in favor of the University (because of a ridiculous technicality), Save the Reactor reviewed options. We encouraged the City of Seattle to appeal the decision to the State Court of Appeals and asked the City to seek a stay of demolition. The City chose to appeal but did not seek a stay. We assume this was for political reasons mostly. And the City is more focused on the larger jurisdictional issues of City and University. But for Save the Reactor and other supporters, this advocacy has been about BOTH the Nuclear Reactor Building and the larger issues. We joined the City of Seattle in its appeal to the State Court of Appeals. We also looked into seeking a stay of demolition but after much discussion with our attorney, we decided not to pursue a stay because of the possibility of having to post an appeal bond backed up by collateral. Docomomo WEWA has no real property to use as collateral but Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation both own significant historic properties. If the stay was granted and we lose the appeal, then we could be liable to the University who could claim damages from delay of demolition and construction of its new project. This is a risk that Save the Reactor could not take. The UW has an annual operating budget of almost $6 billion. Save the Reactor has a combined operating budget of less than $3.5 million. We're somewhat outmatched when it comes to resources.

As a public institution the University of Washington needs to be a good neighbor within the city. For years, we have maintained that there are alternatives to demolishing the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building and there is at least one alternative site for its proposed Computer Science and Engineering II building. Of course, this case is not just about the Nuclear Reactor Building. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns. The University need not be so afraid of external efforts to recognize and honor its history and legacy. We have always advocated for a creative design solution that presents a win-win for the UW and advocates, but this position has been consistently ignored by the University.

What's Next?

We anticipate going before the State Court of Appeals this fall, with a decision in early 2017. The University's plans are to demolish the Nuclear Reactor Building after completing SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) mitigation and obtaining a demolition permit. The UW's self-imposed "mitigation" for demolition is documenting the exterior to HABS Level 1 standards and producing a 3-D virtual tour of the interior. That's it. In our view, there's no mitigation for demolition because once a resource is destroyed, it's gone forever. The University intends to clear the site—the building and over forty trees—as soon as possible. We do know the University would like to start construction in January 2017 if it obtains the required permits in time for that start date. We do know there is no administrative appeal to the City Hearing Examiner for the demolition permit and master use permit, but the City's decisions on whether to grant or deny the permits can be appealed to King County Superior Court through a land use petition. All three Save the Reactor organizations have standing in this case and can appeal.

 

North and west windows removed. City issued a stop work order and notice of violation to UW for deconstructing building without a demolition permit.

North and west windows removed. City issued a stop work order and notice of violation to UW for deconstructing building without a demolition permit.

Defending History: Historic Sites Worthy of Preservation in Jeopardy

Defending History: Historic Sites Worthy of Preservation in Jeopardy

By Knute Berger

The annual list of “most endangered” historic properties around the state has been issued by the nonprofit Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The list is a warning system for important heritage properties that are likely to be demolished or are woefully neglected and need to be saved. This year’s list includes a Woodinville school dating back to the early 1900s, an old red barn in Kent, one of Kirkland’s last original Victorian-era homes, a set of stone houses in the eastern Washington farm community of LaCrosse, and a mid-century modern college campus once run by nuns on the Sammamish Plateau.

The most-endangered list is a plea, not a promise. In the past, it has helped save Seattle icons such as the First United Methodist Church downtown and Washington Hall in the Central District. However, landmarks such as the Gold Rush era’s George Carmack House and the historic sailing ship Wawona were demolished and scrapped, despite efforts.

All properties on each year’s list are worthy of preservation, all in jeopardy, all looking for help and creative solutions.

Read the full article at the Seattle Magazine website . . .

A loophole dooms the UW’s historically designated More Hall Annex to redevelopment

A loophole dooms the UW’s historically designated More Hall Annex to redevelopment

Preservationists throw in the towel on historic nuclear building

Preservationists throw in the towel on historic nuclear building

By Knute Berger

David sometimes beats Goliath, but usually Goliath wins. Outgunned and out financed, preservation advocates have given up on seeking a stay of execution for More Hall Annex, the historic structure on the University of Washington campus otherwise known at the Nuclear Reactor Building.

The UW wants to tear down the structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, to make way for a second Computer Science and Engineering building (CSEII). The proposal has met resistance from preservationists, who want the building protected under the city’s landmarks ordinance, but in April, the UW won a court case exempting it from the ordinance, and since then, resistance has crumbled.

Read the full article on Crosscut.com . . .

Save UW’s nuclear-reactor building; it’s a piece of history

Save UW’s nuclear-reactor building; it’s a piece of history

We cherish the natural landscape but tend to give short shrift to the environment we’ve built, at the risk of dismissing its history, beauty and significance.

By David Berger

GOING, going, gone. That seems to be the status of our industrial landscape.

Up near Port Angeles, the Elwha dams are history. I was glad to see the 100-year-old dams come down and the river flow free again, but sad for the loss as well. The Elwha Dam, on Power Plant Road, spoke of strength and scrappiness, and human sweat. It stretched across the gorge from rock to rock like some Mesoamerican temple.

The weathered concrete is now history, along with the giant tube, the penstock, that lay on the land like a caterpillar and the control room, elegantly designed with slate and steel, and its analog dials that measured force.

Read the full article at the Seattle Times . . . 

More Hall Annex on the University of Washington campus. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

More Hall Annex on the University of Washington campus. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

City of Seattle appeals UW More Hall Annex demolition decision

City of Seattle appeals UW More Hall Annex demolition decision

By Katherine Long

The city is appealing a decision by a Superior Court judge that the University of Washington doesn’t have to follow the city’s landmarks preservation law.

The city of Seattle is appealing a decision by a King County Superior Court judge over whether the city’s landmarks preservation law applies to the university.

The lawsuit revolved around the fate of More Hall Annex, a small building on the Seattle campus that once housed a nuclear reactor. The university wants to demolish the building to make way for a new computer science center building, but preservationists say the building has historical significance and is protected by the city’s landmark preservation 

Read the full article at The Seattle Times . . . 

While city appeals, UW plans to knock down historic building

While city appeals, UW plans to knock down historic building

by Knute Berger

The battle between the city of Seattle and the University of Washington over the city’s landmarks ordinance is not over. But in the meantime, UW has applied for a demolition permit to knock down the building at the center of the debate.

A King County judge ruled in April that the UW is not coveredby the landmarks ordinance as written, giving its Board of Regents more leeway in deciding whether to demolish or modify historic buildings. The city has appealed that decision to the State Court of Appeals, but will not ask for a stay of demolition on More Hall Annex — aka the Nuclear Reactor Building — a structure on the state and national historic registers. 

Read the full article on Crosscut.com . . .

UW Wins on a Technicality

UW Wins on a Technicality

On April 14, 2016, King County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Parisien issued an order granting the University of Washington its motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against defendants City of Seattle and Docomomo WEWA, and intervenors Historic Seattle and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. 

We are obviously disappointed in Judge Suzanne Parisien's decision which did not rule on all the substantive issues of the case. Instead, her Memorandum of Opinion states that the University is not an "owner" as defined in the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, and as such, did not bother to rule on the other issues. This "technicality" is somewhat farfetched because in what other scenario would the UW say it's not an "owner"? The University clearly owns the Seattle campus. It voluntarily submitted a landmark nomination for Husky Stadium (which was not nominated by the Landmarks Preservation Board). The UW complies with the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance when it seeks Landmarks Preservation Board approval for work on its buildings at Sand Point Naval Air Station Historic District. And UW Tacoma is located in a designated local historic district. Is the UW not an owner in those cases?

As a public institution the University of Washington needs to be a good neighbor within the city. There are alternatives to demolishing the National Register-listed Nuclear Reactor Building and there is at least one alternative site for its proposed Computer Science and Engineering II building. Of course, this case is not just about the Nuclear Reactor Building. There are broader implications and impacts related to the entire campus and to any property the University owns.

The University need not be so afraid of external efforts to recognize and honor its heritage and legacy.  

We are reviewing our options at point. Just know that our advocacy efforts will continue.

Read the judge's Memorandum of Opinion here

Ruling on University of Washington building paves way for computer science program expansion

Ruling on University of Washington building paves way for computer science program expansion

By Taylor Soper

A King County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that the University of Washington is exempt from a City of Seattle law that preserves landmarks, paving the way for the UW’s computer science program expansion.

Last year, a local preservation group tried to nominate the 55-year-old More Hall Annex, which previously housed a nuclear reactor, as a landmark under the city’s ordinance.

Read the full article at Geekwire.com . . . 

An early conceptual drawing of the new CSE building interior by LMN Architects. The final building design will incorporate an undergraduate commons (pictured) and instructional labs, seminar rooms, research labs, and collaborative spaces for students and faculty.

An early conceptual drawing of the new CSE building interior by LMN Architects. The final building design will incorporate an undergraduate commons (pictured) and instructional labs, seminar rooms, research labs, and collaborative spaces for students and faculty.

UW wins freedom from city's landmarks law

UW wins freedom from city's landmarks law

By Knute Berger

A King County judge has found that the city of Seattle’s landmarks ordinance does not apply to the University of Washington’s main campus.

The decision is a boost for the UW’s plan to build a new $106 million Computer Science & Engineering complex on the site of More Hall Annex, a 1960s nuclear reactor building that is on the national and state registers of historic places. Preservationists have sought to protect the structure from demolition; the UW says their new facility, called the CSEII building, must be erected at that site and the annex brought down.

Read the full article in Crosscut.com . . .

Hearing decision within 10 days

Hearing decision within 10 days

On Friday, April 1, a large contingency of preservation supporters attended the summary judgement hearing regarding UW's lawsuit claiming they should not be subject to the City of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. After a two-hour process that involved oral arguments and questions from the judge, the judge thanked each party for their presentations and said she would have a decision within ten days.

Stay tuned . . . we will let you know as soon as we hear about the judge's decision.

Thanks to all who came out in support of Seattle's preservation law! Here is a snapshot of some of the group:

Attend the hearing to support the Nuclear Reactor Building

Attend the hearing to support the Nuclear Reactor Building

The King County Superior Court hearing on UW's lawsuit against the City of Seattle, Docomomo WEWA, Historic Seattle, and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation will take place Friday, April 1.

The hearing is open to the public and will take place at 10am in courtroom W-764:

King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA98104.

Come to show your support!

For more info on the lawsuit, click here.

#‎savethereactor

UW suing Seattle over control of historic campus buildings

UW suing Seattle over control of historic campus buildings

By Katherine Long

Some call it a useless relic of the nuclear age. Others say it’s a modernist gem of a building.

One thing is certain: The fate of the old nuclear-reactor building at the University of Washington has set off a chain reaction of concern about historic preservation, and has raised fundamental questions about how much power the UW’s Board of Regents can wield.

After preservationists nominated the reactor building, More Hall Annex, to receive landmark status under the city’s Landmark Preservation Ordinance, the university sued, saying it shouldn’t be bound by that law.

Read the full article from The Seattle Times . . . 

UW flips city the bird over historic preservation

UW flips city the bird over historic preservation

By Knute Berger

The showdown between the University of Washington and the City of Seattle over the city’s landmarks ordinance, and whether it applies to the UW campus, is approaching on April 1, but it’s no April Fool’s joke. If the university wins it could set a precedent for exempting the UW and other state universities from local land-use laws. If the city prevails, Seattle’s landmarks ordinance could apply to buildings on campus, including the historic More Hall Annex, aka the Nuclear Reactor Building, which the UW wants to tear down but preservationists want to save.

In a rapidly developing city, the suit is a high-stakes legal struggle over what development rules apply and where. The UW has chosen to pursue a “nuclear” option on the city’s landmarks process, using arguments that the city sees as a threat to its authority.

Read the full story on Crosscut . . .