The phrase “food court” doesn’t exactly inspire visions of culinary promise and satisfaction. Over the last few months, Seattle Center has embarked on a mission to eventually disassociate the food offerings at the Seattle Center hub, the Center House, from the image of a few bland McChoices drowned in florescent lighting.
The Center House emerged as part of the 1962 World’s Fair, and was renovated in the 1990s “to support the programming that was going on in the building,” says Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust. “People travel more for their stomachs now, and we want to give them that.” And by “that” she means offerings from beloved local eateries in an appealing, updated setting.
In a promising move, Seattle Center tapped design firm Graham Baba Architects—responsible for The Melrose Market, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Skillet Diner, Revel and other lovely local spaces—for the interior redesign. Exterior walls on the west and south sides are making way for sweeping windows, and the hodgepodge of neon lights and wall murals is being traded in for a clean and cohesive look, with 60 feet of patio dining overlooking the International Fountain and Fisher Plaza. Another tantalizing tidbit: Skillet Street Food has agreed to sign on as an anchor tenant. Says Skillet’s Josh Henderson: “We feel positive about the potential outcome.” Henderson hopes to have the new location up and running by June.
But the improved Center House isn’t based entirely on forward thinking; the new name for the building harks back to its origins as a National Guard armory during WWII: The Armory.