Concrete Creates a Public Space for Fisher Pavilion

Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall Wins Awards for Sustainability

green_fisher_1Since Seattle adopted its Sustainable Building Policy in 2000, all city-funded projects over 5,000 square feet are required to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification. Fisher Pavilion—a concrete exhibition hall that hosts more than 250,000 visitors each year at Seattle Centertook green building a step further, earning recognition as one of the American Institute of Architect’s Committee on the Environment (AIA/COTE) Top Ten Green Projects of 2003.

Seattle Center is a focal point for social activity in the Emerald City, and Fisher Pavilion is at the heart of it. Situated within view of the Space Needle and International Fountain Plaza, the site offers 24,000- square-feet of entertainment space. To create the public space with a concrete face, project architect Miller/Hull Partnership employed a combination of precast and cast-in-place concrete for 90 percent of the facility. The pavilion is buried on three sides, with 19,000 square feet of usable roof plaza. The pavilion offers approximately 14,000-square-feet of flat floor exhibition space with a nearly 20-foot clear height.

Project manager Ron Rochon, Miller/Hull, said the decision to use concrete was easy. “The finishes have to be super-durable, so exposed concrete is a natural. Unless they demolish it, it’s a 1,000-year building," Rochon said.

green_fisher_3All vertical elements are cast in place, while horizontal elements are precast. The main exhibition hall is spanned with 65 precast T-shaped elements, similar to those used on bridge decks and the roof structure is created with precast concrete plank.

To create the roof paving system, the team used 12-by-12-inch precast concrete pavers to form a decorative design that can be seen from the top of the nearby Space Needle, while sloped to provide drainage. Two concrete pylons with glazed canopies house mechanical equipment and elevators, and serve to mark entries and exits.

Concrete’s thermal mass helps even out changes in building temperature, a key component of the energy efficiency of Fisher Pavilion.

Rochon said using earth-sheltered concrete “drops the delta across the exterior envelope—we don’t have incredible temperature swings on three sides.”

green_fisher_2The result is significant energy savings that help beat the ASHRAE heating and cooling standard by 20 percent, a benefit potentially worth two points toward the LEED energy and atmosphere credit. The north wall is composed of sliding glazed garage doors that can be opened to allow natural ventilation for much of the year.

Fisher Pavilion stands as a centerpiece for Seattle’s green building program, Rochon said.

Fisher Pavilion has received numerous awards including the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects in 2003.

Fisher Pavilion received the U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1 in 2004 achievement level: Certified (29 points).

Photo courtesy of Steve Keating Photography



Seattle Center

Architect :

Miller | Hull Partnership, LLP, Seattle, Washington

Civil and Structural Engineer:

Akb Engineers, Inc., Seattle, Washington


Howard S. Wright Construction Company, Seattle, Washington

Precast Concrete Contractor:
Concrete Technology Corporation, Tacoma, Washington