Throughout history, Seattle has defined itself as a city that rises and reinvents itself from the ashes of the past. From the Great Fire of 1889, the rise of Boeing in the early twentieth century, to the tech boom of the present, the idea of transformation wove itself into Seattle’s cultural fabric, and continues to make Seattle an inspiring destination for meeting planners.
“Here, cowboys have been reincarnated as entrepreneurs,” wrote Jaimee Garbacik in Ghosts of Seattle Past. “At the same time, underground scenes and resistance movements spring up from unlikely places.”
Currently, Seattle is well into another period of extensive change and transformation spurred by the success of Amazon, which has now surpassed Microsoft as the richest public-owned company in the world. Amazon employees make up roughly 1/14th of the city’s population of nearly 700,000 people and the skyline, infrastructure, business and pace of the city are all in a state of growth.
As a result, Seattle is assuming its place among major vibrant, energetic metropolises like New York City and Los Angeles, and the momentum of change has a magical feeling to it—the perfect underpinnings for a memorable meeting. But more specifically, this era of change has further primed Seattle to host larger and more inspiring meetings. With the growth, the city offers increased amenities for attendees and highlights its richest offerings.
Expanded meeting capacity
First and foremost, Seattle is expanding its Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) with the Summit building. Summit is slated to add 248,450 more square feet of exhibit space to the center, up to 66 more meeting rooms and is expected to bring more than 400,000 new conventioneers to the city.
What’s more, the new addition will be thoughtfully designed for meeting planners and native Seattleites alike, with the objective to provide an atmosphere that fosters future and present innovation, as well as a connection between the city’s dynamic surroundings and visiting groups.
Just one and a half blocks from the existing Arch building, Summit will occupy a full city block—standing where four of Seattle’s oldest and most prominent neighborhoods meet. This allows Arch and Summit to weave together the past and the present, as well as the experiences of locals and visitors alike.
Architects promise that Summit will engage the city center around it with four “highly interactive” facades, each with transparent edges that blend it into the environment and “blur the site with the city context” in a way that inescapably embeds visitors in the city and asks them to engage with Seattle’s ever-changing story. Additionally, Summit will use natural light, connecting its major spaces vertically with two large atriums that draw on the weather, mood, and light of its transformative urban surroundings.
There’s even a glass-enclosed staircase along Pine Street, that will position conventioneers inside towards the rich, west-facing views to Pike Place Market and Puget Sound, encouraging a moment of contemplation and inspiration.
Clearly, the WSCC development is a boon for the infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, and other cultural nodes in the city. Visitors will notice the city’s development as soon as they arrive: SEA-TAC Airport is undergoing many improvements and was recently named one of the ten best airports in the U.S. by HuffPost, and new light rail lines are adding more efficient travel options into the city.
Additionally, seven new hotel properties opened in 2018, bringing the total downtown room count to 14,160 at the end of 2018, and there is expected to be another 5% increase in 2019. This expansion included a range of hotels from boutiques like The State Hotel and Palihotel to the building of the Hyatt Regency Seattle, now the largest hotel north of San Francisco with over 1,200 rooms.
The city’s most iconic landmarks—the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the waterfront—are also seeing renovations for the first time in decades, which helps reinvent and clarify Seattle’s story.
The Space Needle’s $100M renovation allows guest to “fly” 520 feet above Seattle, by leaning into titled glass walls on the open-air deck for an angled vantage point and a perfect selfie opportunity. Meanwhile, the upcoming waterfront renovation, will allow visitors, for the first time in history, the chance to walk from Pike Place Market all the way down to the water to take in the ferries, greenery and surrounding mountains.
Whatever size or style of meeting you plan to hold, Seattle’s current transformation will bring groups up-close and personal with the city’s dynamic and innovative spirit. It will saturate your meeting with an inspiring mood—something special attendees can bring back to their work in their industry. Learn more about how the city can serve as a place for inspiration at visitseattle.org/meetings.