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C200: The Best Is Yet To Come, Seattle

2011 April 8
by Mike Kent

< Seattle sidewalk; photo: Mike Kent >

In The Secret Lives of Buildings, architect Edward Hollis wrote: “Architecture is all too often imagined as if buildings do not—and should not—change. But change they do, and have always done. Buildings are gifts, and because they are, we must pass them on.”

I would extend this sentiment to cities and, specifically, to Seattle. Ours is a city whose gifts are clear to even the most casual passer-through: an admirable balance of natural beauty and urban density, a thriving arts scene, and a meaningfully engaged citizenry, to name a few.

I will highlight one more exciting aspect of our city: its obvious potential to become even better. Seattle has the unique opportunity to make the leap from “great” to “world-class”, and I am excited to contribute my small part toward its evolution.

Rather than lamenting the relative meagerness of Seattle’s transit systems compared to, say, Portland’s, let’s celebrate our nascent light rail and streetcar as the kickstart of what could become a magnificent transportation network. Let’s learn from our transit forebears how to improve own transit network, perhaps itself one day a model for excellence. For now, though, let’s recognize our transit network for what it is: a work in progress.

Let’s seize the opportunity presented by Seattle’s future transit hubs and underbuilt core neighborhoods like Denny Triangle and South Downtown by working together to encourage higher-density development that enables future Seattleites, as Mayor McGinn might say, to “walk, bike, and ride” in their daily commutes.

Let’s honor our city’s rich architectural and cultural history by preserving vestiges of Seattle’s past and weaving them into its future as a foundation for sustainable growth.

Seattle is not yet a finished product—it’s not even close. It will not be the same place 20 years from now, or even five years from now. It will be even better.

So, breathe, Seattle. Smile! We are an incredible city, and our best has yet to come.


Mike Kent is an urban planner and Director of Kent Planning Solutions, based in Capitol Hill.