Adaptive Reuse Potential of Harborview Hall

1937. Harborview Hall / Photo: Washington State Archives Puget Sound Region Branch

On September 8, 2011, the King County Executive Services Department released an RFQ/C (Request for Qualifications/Concepts) related to the adaptive re-use of Harborview Hall, a National Register-eligible Art Deco style building (built in 1931) on the Harborview Medical Center campus. Those interested can find details in the King County website’s Procurement page.  Solicitation details can be downloaded on that site. A pre-submittal conference to discuss questions related to this RFQ/C will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 16, 2011, in the Lydia/Catherine Conference Room on the 2nd Floor of the King County Administration Bldg, 500 Fourth Avenue, Seattle. Submittals are due October 6, 2011 (no later than 2 pm).

Harborview Hall is receiving a 90-day stay of execution from the wrecking ball through this RFQ/C process. Harborview Medical Center (HMC) plans to demolish the building and replace it with a plaza. At the eleventh hour, King County officials were alerted to the demolition plans. Recognizing the building’s significance, they are seeking time to study the feasibility of rehabilitating the building and bringing it back to viable use. To tear down this gem of a building which has great reuse potential and replace it with a plaza is a waste of resources especially in this day and age when sustainability is often a goal for development projects.

The RFQ/C states: ” Harborview Hall is currently slated for demolition pursuant to a capital redevelopment programs at the HMC campus.  However, at the request of King County, the University of Washington (UW) and the Harborview Board of Trustees, in cooperation with King County, have delayed for 90 days plans to demolish Harborview Hall.  This delay allows for another review of the feasibility of rehabilitating the building in a manner that supports and enhances the mission of HMC, ensures the seismic stability of the facility, and preserves a significant historic property.  Any project should be cost neutral to Harborview, the UW and King County as there are no funds available to support the construction or operations to retain this building.”

The time frame for interested parties to respond is short (less than a month). This will not be an easy project. But we hope there are developers out there who can propose a feasible and viable project that will benefit HMC, UW, the County, the First Hill community and Seattle. First Hill has lost so much already and will continue to lose historic and character buildings to hospital development. Renovating Harborview Hall and maintaining hospital-related use is a win-win.