Love & Wisdom

Most Influential Seattleites of 2017: Ben Franz-Knight

Seattle Magazine presents the Most Influential Seattleites of 2017.

By Virginia Smyth October 15, 2017

franz-knight-crop

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

It took more than four decades to achieve, but in late June, an impressive 30,000-square-foot expansion of Pike Place Market opened for business. An expansion had always been part of the successful 1970s-era “Keep the Market” urban renewal plan, but numerous obstacles (funding, the BNSF railroad tunnel that runs underneath the site, development constraints) kept it from gaining traction, despite eight feasibility studies. But the upcoming demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct provided impetus for the city to redevelop the waterfront—and connect it to the Market, which led to state and city funding for the expansion. 

That’s where Ben Franz-Knight came in. The Pullman native, and until recently, the executive director of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), spent the past six years taking the build-out from concept to reality, a process that required patience, political savvy and keen problem-solving skills, along with consolidating input from more than 200 public meetings and working with 90 project partners, including the Market community and government agencies.

Building the extension as trains continued to run underneath it was the biggest nail-biting challenge, Franz-Knight says, since any interruption of train service could have stopped the project cold. Another challenge? “Managing the project in a fishbowl, and keeping it moving” he says. With the project finished, Franz-Knight announced last July that he was leaving for a new position, but the Market has left its mark on him. “I will carry forward the fundamental democracy of this place to all of my future work,” he says.

Read about the rest of 2017’s Most Influential Seattleites here.

 

Follow Us

Virtual Playground

Virtual Playground

VR social gaming launches in Bellevue

Brush up on your VR gaming skills so you don’t flail in front of an audience — though, that’s meant to be part of the fun...

Downtown Seattle Gains Ground

Downtown Seattle Gains Ground

Foot traffic is on the rise

Downtown Seattle foot traffic continues to increase even though major retailers are increasingly moving out...

Canlis Goes Pink For KENLIS

Canlis Goes Pink For KENLIS

Upscale restaurant gets a colorful makeover

Canlis is going pink. The Seattle fine dining restaurant is ditching its dark colors in favor of a bold pink for a Barbie-themed event called “KENLIS” Aug. 9 and 10. The restaurant is now painted a flashy bright pink. The event is a dance party at “the Canlis dream house” that benefits breast cancer research…

Remembering Amazon’s First Prime Day: ‘Intimidating as Hell’

Remembering Amazon’s First Prime Day: ‘Intimidating as Hell’

Former Executive Creative Director Michael Boychuk recalls secrecy, pressure

Back in 2014, Michael Boychuk began his career as the executive creative director of Amazon’s in-house creative agency...