The prospect of more thoughtless building blight in downtown Olympia looms smack-dab in the middle of the oldest and most significant historic civic vista in Washington state. There is no more perfect place on earth to showcase the state’s most impressive attributes than the civic vista that stretches from the state capital to the Olympics beyond. It is like our state’s version of the National Mall, exemplifying our natural beauty, vast distances, and embodies the soul of our community.
Today, private developers plan to intrude into this grand civic vista by redeveloping the 50-year-old Capital Center Building (CCB). They hope that appearance peddling of new masses and exterior decorations will reshape public preconceptions of the CCB by disguising it as something other than the “Mistake by the Lake”. But the CCB redevelopment project can not disguise the urban problem of being in the wrong place, which can only be eliminated by removing the CCB from the urban landscape.
We must protect our state’s most important civic vista by purchasing and removing the Capital Center Building from the earth. Stuart Ewen wrote that large scale urban vistas establish a cohesive ordered environment that is a unifying image of livability and prosperity for the community. Olympia’s city council can ensure the qualities of this image by using an open public process that allows the public to vote on the fate of the CCB and represents the citizenry of Olympia and the state of Washington.
Tear it down.
Paul Christian Ingman,