1. An Early Christmas at W3
    December 11, 2013 by Walden3

    In the mid-1990’s, the owners of the Seven Seas Building refused an above market-rate offer from the Four Seasons Hotel. About to begin construction on a new multi-million dollar, five star hotel, they wished to secure more real estate and capitalize on the expansive views of Elliot Bay and greater Puget Sound. It wasn’t the first time that the family had turned down a generous offer, but after continued conversation, they did agree to an unusual deal – for $800,000.00 the Four Seasons Hotel purchased the air rights above the building – insuring that no future high-rise would obstruct their sweeping views to the south. The Four Seasons effectively purchased the air rights ten feet above the roof of their neighbor.

    When renovating the Seven Seas Building for W3 operations, it was impossible not to view the 4,000 square foot tar roof as a brilliant outdoor space brimming with potential. Just so long as we didn’t breach the 10 foot easement, our new cargo elevator could open out onto this envisioned roof deck. Would it be a sculpture park, host summer parties, support a ‘living roof’, a zip line to Alki Beach?

    What we had not envisioned was a 47 foot wooden Chris Craft yacht pointed towards the sound and housing an artist-residency program.

    Seattle art collectors Elli and Dan Hansen have been avid supporters of Walden Three, and from the very beginning had offered their Lake Union yacht as a place for visiting W3 artists to stay. The boat, aptly called The Tranquilizer, rarely left its moorage, but proved to be a generous, and truly functional place to house artists. It was an adventure to sleep aboard, and with three staterooms, it comfortably slept six, with two bathrooms, a full kitchen and spacious living quarters… it was just about perfect.



    I don’t want to give a bottle of Blanton’s bourbon full credit, but by the time it was drained (along with a case of red wine, a fifth of tequila and numerous other spirits), Dan, Alan Maskin, Sierra Stinson, Sarah Bergman, Ben Beres, Amanda Manatach, DK Pan and myself had imagined The Tranquilizer on the roof of Walden Three, plumbed into W3’s utilities and serving as a year-round artist-residency program. It was indeed a late-night drunken dream, and while more absurd things had been realized,  I think our collective hang over washed away our enthusiasm and chalked up the night as another lively engagement.

    The conversation seemed to be quickly forgotten to everyone except Elli and Dan Hansen.

    While we were busy filming and producing exhibits at W3, Elli and Dan were on a mission – talking with Ness Cranes, Turner Construction, Olson Kundig Architects and The Four Seasons (the flybridge of The Tranquilizer would rest 14′-4″ above the roofline) and last week we were formally gifted The Tranquilizer. Yes, there will be a yacht on the roof. A. Yacht. On. The. Roof. (How do you scream excitement with a keyboard?) The twin diesel engines will be removed, a section of the hull cut away and retrofitted for stability, and the natural gas, water and sewage will route into our existing utilities.




    The Tranquilizer is on schedule to be crane-lifted onto its perch in late February 2014. We cannot thank Elli and Dan enough, but we will do our very best to make their family yacht one of the most dynamic artist-residency programs in the world, and with Sierra Stinson at the helm of the project, it is sure to be a coveted destination for artists, writers, musicians and all who care to dream with us.

    Happy holidays, and thank you for helping us imagine a greater city.