Art Stable is an urban infill project in the rapidly developing South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. Built on the site of a former horse stable, the seven-story mixed-use building carries its working history into the future with highly adaptable live/work units. Both front and back elevations of the building are active. The alley-facing façade features an 80-foot-5-inch-tall hinge topped by a davit crane and five steel-clad, hand-cranked doors that make up nearly a third of the façade. The system references a warehousing tradition in how it moves oversize objects into the building.

Project: Art Stable
Studio Name: Olson Kundig

Design Team:

  • Design Principal: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA
  • Principal: Kirsten Ring Murray, FAIA
  • Project Manager (Construction Documents and CCA): Kevin Kudo-King, AIA, LEED® AP
  • Project Manager (Schematic Design through Design Development): Jim Friesz, AIA, LEED® AP
  • Project Architect: Jeff Ocampo, LEED® AP

Area: 27,141 SF (units are 4,000 SF)
Year: 2010
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA


  • Developer: Point32
  • General Contractor: Exxel Pacific General Contractors
  • Mechanical Contractor: Hermanson Company, LLC
  • Civil Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
  • Structural Engineer: DCI Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineer: PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Code Consultant: Kinsman Code Consulting
  • Energy Consultant: Patrick Hayes
  • Envelope: RDH Group
  • Acoustical: BRC Acoustics & Technology Consulting
  • Geotechnical: ZZA Terracon
  • Gizmo Engineering Consultants: Turner Exhibits, Inc.
  • Foundation Drilling: Kulchin Foundation Drilling Company

Photography Credits: Benjamin Benschnider, Point32, Tim Bies/Olson Kundig

Art Stable By Olson Kundig Architects - Sheet4
©Benjamin Benschnider, Point32, Tim Bies/Olson Kundig

The architects collaborated with engineers to design what may be the world’s largest hinge: a system designed to manually open large steel sheet-clad art doors with a custom-designed hand wheel. The davit crane on top of the building can lift the objects from the alley into units. Users can open the door up to 75 degrees by turning a large hand wheel. The wheel connects to a threaded rod which goes through the building envelope and connects to a pivot bolt on the exterior of the building. The threading on the rod ensures that the doors can be held open at the desired angle, and eliminates the possibility of them being blown open or shut. On the street-facing side of the building, 8-foot by 7-foot hinged windows open with the same technique, providing natural ventilation to the units.

Art Stable By Olson Kundig Architects - Sheet5
©Benjamin Benschnider, Point32, Tim Bies/Olson Kundig

Units are designed to accommodate flexibility in use and changes over time, and are zoned for both residential and commercial use. The shell and core of the building are built to last over 100 years. The concrete structure is designed to take heavy loads, and structural and mechanical systems are exposed. Geothermal loops were inserted into the building’s structural piles, resulting in an innovative and highly energy-efficient radiant heating and cooling system. This is one of the first times this type of geothermal system has been used in this country.

Art Stable By Olson Kundig Architects - Sheet7
©Benjamin Benschnider, Point32, Tim Bies/Olson Kundig

The use of simple, no-to-low-maintenance materials including concrete, steel and glass draws upon the warehouse typology of the formerly industrial neighborhood. Interior build-outs are determined by each unit’s owners, who can punch windows into the north façade of the building, providing a personalized balance between privacy and transparency. The building draws upon the architectural concepts of prospect and refuge, transposed to an urban setting.


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