Olson Kundig Looks to the Light for Tishman Speyer in Seattle

Dowbuilt fabricated the custom reception desk of salvaged Douglas fir timber, with a base of blackened tubular steel. Photography courtesy of Aaron Leitz.

In gray Seattle, sometimes you have to find light within. Specifically, inside the 29-story 520 Olson Kundig refreshed for Tishman Speyer’s 1,000 workplace tenants. “Creating a light-filled space drove every decision we made,” says Kirsten Murray, FAIA, a principal and owner of Olson Kundig.

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The lobby’s elevator bay contrasts three light sources: low-output washes from Visual Lighting Technologies; Lumenpulse LOGi Series high-output wall grazers; and Volt Lighting’s vertical linear LED accents hidden within a niche. Photography courtesy of Aaron Leitz.

The first clue can be found, appropriately enough, at the entrance. It is announced by a white steel canopy that shines in stark relief against a stacked bond pattern of Shanxi Black Granite cladding, accessorized with Brombal stainless steel doors and storefront, and bog oak custom door pulls.

The lobby’s “Boulder” seats are actually wisp granite, made by Quarra Stone Company, that rest on Stone Source’s Basaltina stone slabs. Photography courtesy of Aaron Leitz.

Inside, walls are clad in five different sizes of solid poplar panels, installed in varying patterns by the local manufacturer, WW Wells Millwork. Seating pays homage to the mountains and forests beyond the city limits, capturing the natural beauty of the Northwest. “I like the degree of subtle textures we were able to explore—glass, wood grains, stone veining—within what is a monochromatic color palette,” Murray says. As usual, Olson Kundig is full of bright ideas.

A Dowbuilt bench in the lobby honors the patina and rings of the salvaged Douglas fir timber used as a seat and back; its angle base and seat back supports are blackened steel. Photography courtesy of Aaron Leitz.
The team erected a new canopy at the street entrance, made of steel painted a bright white. Photography courtesy of Aaron Leitz.

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