Datebook: Pioneer Square's 619 Western Building

Artists in the historic artist's loft are becoming more vocal in their appreciation for these histor
Brangien Davis  |   March 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
An untitled painting from the series “Explorations of the Viaduct” by Marie Gagnon, an artist who works in the historic 619 Western building

The Alaskan Way Viaduct has suffered a great many accusations during its hulking life: It’s an eyesore, it blocks views of the sound, it drops large cement chunks of itself onto sidewalks without notice and, most chillingly, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. But like it or not, the Viaduct has also become integral to the city’s landscape—especially for those working close by, such as the more than 100 artists who work in Pioneer Square’s 619 Western Building, which has served as a creative enclave since 1979. Built in 1910, the building stood nearly a half-century before the Viaduct buddied up to its windows. In the years since, the structures have become pals by proximity—two outdated friends that may be torn apart quite literally when the Viaduct replacement tunnel comes boring in. At press time, the fate of the 619 building was undetermined; it will either be razed or seriously retrofit. Even in the latter case, tenants will be forced to relocate, most likely permanently. In the meantime, artists are becoming more vocal in their appreciation for these historic stomping grounds. Visit 619 at the next First Thursday art walk and do the same. 3/3. 6–10:30 p.m. Free. 619western.com.