This new public building provides a splendid forecourt and reflects the geometry of the site and belowground structure.
By Mark Hinshaw
For more than 100 years, Everett, Washington, a city located
about 30 miles north of Seattle, was a rough-and-tumble waterfront mill town.
Lumberjacks, stevedores, and railroad workers would mix it up in the profusion
of taverns and burlesque houses that lined the downtown streets. At the top of
a bluff, several blocks north, the city’s upper crust—the bankers, railroad
barons, and mill managers—lived in splendid Victorian mansions overlooking
their domains. But the lumber mills ruled the roost, with great smokestacks
spewing long plumes of grimy soot while towering over trees, topography, and buildings.
Everett benefited from being the seat of government for
Snohomish County. Commerce swirled around a mission-style courthouse perched at
the top of a hill. Though largely blue collar and working class, Everett
thrived with department stores, hotels, restaurants, and a robust, if sometimes
seamy, nightlife. But all that changed with suburban expansion in the 1950s and
Middle-class families moved out, department stores decamped
for the malls, and the streets and buildings of downtown Everett became
virtually vacant. Even in the 1990s, when the U.S. Navy installed a bustling,
state-of-the-art “home port” for a massive aircraft carrier, the place still
But things change. By the end of the twentieth century
Everett was well within the commute shed of Seattle—a 45-minute drive. Housing
prices were a fraction of those in the big city. A huge inventory of historic
homes and old commercial buildings began to attract new investors. For its
part, the city worked with the regional transit agency to build a stunning new
multimodal rail and bus station with educational institutions occupying the
upper floors. But it was not until the city built an elegant arena squarely in
the center of downtown for a professional hockey team that the city finally got
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