This adaptive re-use project for cannabis retailer The Reef is located on a prominent corner of Capitol Hill, Seattle’s longtime counterculture hub.

Architect: Olson Kundig
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Status: Built; Completed 2018
Project Size: 2,123 SF
Project Team: Kirsten R. Murray, FAIA, Design Principal; Jeff Ocampo, LEED® AP, Project Manager; Sasha Leon, Architectural Staff
Key Consultants: Guy Davis, GMD Custom Design, General Contractor; DCI, Structural Engineer; O- Lighting, Lighting Design

The Reef By Olson Kundig - Sheet3“With The Reef, we were intrigued by the challenge of this new project typology and the aspirations of the ownership to elevate the design experience of this sort of retail use. Additionally, the thought of creating this store in the historical context of Capitol Hill – a place where experimentation and new ideas have shaped our city’s culture – was compelling.” –Kirsten R. Murray, FAIA, Design Principal

The Reef By Olson Kundig - Sheet4Inspired by the owner’s aspirations to elevate the in-store cannabis delivery model and create a space referencing the aquatic inspirations of the Pacific Northwest, the design emphasizes ideas of transparency and self-guided discovery while exploring concepts of immersion and underwater experience. Three large peninsula displays evoke geologically-shaped rock formations, topped with large glass vitrines that showcase cannabis in its raw state. Emphasizing budtender-to-consumer interaction, the displays allow budtenders to move in and around the space to engage customers.

Bubble-like window displays bring the aquatic emphasis to the street-facing façade, which also features murals of Jacques Cousteau and an underwater scene by Seattle street artist Weirdo. Inside, a material palette of glass, reclaimed driftwood and concrete with sand-like aggregates completes the exploration of water and submersion.

The Reef By Olson Kundig - Sheet5“We wanted to support the owner’s vision of making a space that referenced the natural and aquatic inspirations in our region through materiality and an emphasis on transparency. Also, the architecture, displays and layers of art evoke ideas of discovery and hands-on creativity akin to an underwater experience.” –Kirsten R. Murray, FAIA, Design Principal.


Olson Kundig is a collaborative global design practice whose work expands the context of built and natural landscapes. Led by five owners, the firm’s work can be found in more than fifteen countries on five continents, with projects ranging from cultural and museum projects to exhibition design, commercial and mixed-use design, private and multi-family residential, hospitality projects, places of worship, interior design, product design and landscape design.


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