Getting the Upper Hand

Contemporary Hotel Soars to 500’ Tall in Seattle, Washington 

by Thomas Renner, PR account executive, Catalyst Marketing Communications

Things are looking up for the hotel construction industry in Seattle, Washington.  That was the case, quite literally, in December of 2018 when the 500’-tall Hyatt Regency Seattle opened its doors, becoming the largest hotel in the Pacific Northwest.  The hotel includes 1,260 guest rooms, extending across 1.4 million sq.ft. on 45 floors.  The three-year construction project cost $470 million and ended a development process that endured for 23 years for Richard Hedreen, the property developer. 

“No other addition to Seattle’s vastly updated cityscape is more important for Seattle tourism than the new, very visible contemporary building right in the middle of town,” said Hyatt Regency manager Tom Wolf.  “With the opening of the largest hotel in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle will finally have the meeting space options it needs.” 

The addition of the Hyatt Regency contributed to a recent explosion of hotel rooms in Seattle.  In 2018 alone, more than 2,100 rooms and seven hotels opened in Seattle.  The city’s rise as a tech giant, notably with the addition of Amazon’s headquarters campus, The Spheres, has contributed to the increased demand for hotel rooms.  The city is home to six Fortune 500 companies, and many of them need meeting space and accommodations for incoming clients and guests.  There are 103,000 sq.ft. of meeting space at the hotel. 

Size alone, however, does not define the uniqueness of the Hyatt Regency Seattle.  Stephen Van Dyck, design partner for LMN Architects, Seattle, which designed the hotel, said celebrating the city was a critical goal.  “We wanted to create a visitor experience that was authentic to the ethos of Seattle, allowing guests to be immersed in the culture of the Pacific Northwest,” Van Dyck said.  “Establishing an inviting experience into the hotel, the design honors a vital connection to its surroundings while transforming the site into a dynamic and inviting living room in the heart of our city.”   

If it’s space you are looking for in a hotel room, you’ll find it at the expansive Seattle hotel.  Its Presidential Suite includes more than 1,700 sq.ft. on the top floor with a separate bedroom, living room, dining room, workspace, butler’s pantry, large bathrooms, and oversized windows featuring sweeping city views.  Rooms downsize from there, ranging from the Summit Suite with 1,275 sq.ft., to the Executive Suite at 800-1,100 sq.ft., and the Regency Suite at 500-725 sq.ft.  All of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Guests can also enjoy a fitness center outfitted with Peloton® bikes and other state-of-the-art exercise equipment, a lounge with firepits, large modern bathrooms, 65’ televisions, and a collection of black-and-white photos captured by six Seattle-based photographers that highlight the beauty of the Northwest Region.  The lower levels include two sit-down restaurants, bars, and shops.  Two ballrooms each have more than 19,000 sq.ft. of space with ceilings that stretch as high as 30’.  The hotel also has an executive boardroom, function spaces, and meeting rooms.  Meeting rooms were a critical need for the hotel, which is two blocks from the Washington State Convention Center and adjacent to The Summit, a planned convention center expansion that is scheduled to open in 2022. 

The site of the hotel is a former site of a Greyhound® bus station.  An eight-story podium serves as the base for the tower, which includes ground-level retail, an art-filled hotel lobby, and a pedestrian and vehicular passage area through the podium. 

“This project required great attention to proportion and scale throughout, balancing the interplay between intimate private moments and large social events,” Van Dyck said.  “Additionally, the site required stacking the program vertically and placing the tower on the south corner of the block due to the challenge.” 

The hotel received LEED® Gold certification, the second-highest building rating in the world, and is the only LEED Gold-certified hotel in Seattle.  “We have committed to reducing our impact on the environment through operations,” said Shauna Decker, vice president of design and development for Hedreen.  “We made the decision to eliminate the individual amenities in the guestroom in lieu of a dispenser in the shower filled with beautiful products for our guests.  I figured it would eliminate more than one million plastic bottles going to the landfill every year.”   

Other environment-friendly measures included installing a light-colored roof to reduce the urban heat-island effect, and incorporating a highly efficient laundry system that captures both heat and water after use to reduce the need for additional energy to preheat incoming water to the laundry system.  Construction teams also designed mechanical and lighting systems that reduce the building’s energy usage, uses waste heat from the chiller to heat hotel spaces, and incorporates recycled content in more than 20% of the products used in its construction. 

Atop the structure are four custom-made roof hatches manufactured by The BILCO® Company.  The roof hatches are equipped with snow sensors and motorized operation.  They also include safety railing systems.  Chris Chesire, managing partner for RC Building Specialties, Tukwila, Washington, said the roof hatches were integral to the design of the hotel by the architectural team.  “That’s what they specified, and we were able to install them without any difficulty,” said Chesire, who worked on the project as a subcontractor for Sellen Construction, Seattle. 

LMN Architects had been knowledgeable about BILCO from work on previous projects.  “BILCO’s reputation as an industry leader and the company’s ability to accommodate the sizes needed in a timely matter were almost assuredly important factors for LMN,” said Lisa Stevens, GVA Northwest, Portland, Oregon, which procured the hatches for RC Building Specialties. 

The hotel is yet another sign of the growth of Seattle as a big city.  Since 2010, its population has grown by 22%, making it the fastest-growing big city of the past decade.  The city’s population grew by 2.1% from 2017-2018, the second highest total among big United States cities.  It has ranked among the top five fastest growing cities for six consecutive years.  Perhaps unlike any other large United States city, Seattle’s diversity is its charm.  The addition of the Hyatt Regency Seattle to its hotel marketplace celebrates and embraces that diversity. 

“The building design was not intended to reflect diversity, but to frame and host a diversity of experiences,” Van Dyck said.  “We designed very flexible spaces to allow for a wide range of uses throughout the building, as such it has already become a natural home for many of the city’s most significant economic, cultural, and culinary experiences.  It is also open, welcoming, and accessible along the street edge, and has knit itself into the fabric of people’s everyday lives.” 

Please follow and like us: