Seattle facade Photo: birdy206/Flickr

In Seattle, what is new is often times old and familiar. If you’ve noticed historic facades below new construction, then you’ve witnessed a trend called “Facadism.”

Under the 2009 City Council-created guidelines, new construction projects are eligible for zoning incentives if the building is at least 75 years old and developers agree to preserve full or partial building characteristics. These new construction incentives allow buildings to be 10 feet taller than the regular height limit along with additional floor space.

Some of the most recent examples of this facade preservation include the Allen Institute for Brain Science headquarters in South Lake Union. This six-story project was built upon the former structure of the Ford and Pacific McKay building.

While not all projects receive full public approval, many buildings such as Chophouse Row have been able to mix original architecture with new amenities. Other projects maintaining original facades include the Seattle Times Headquarters redevelopment on John Street in which nearly 2,000 residential units are to be added to the existing building.

Although maintaining a facade may not be considered full preservation, it is a hopeful sign that a part of Seattle’s past will live on into the future.

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