A mid-century modern beacon on Seattle’s central waterfront, Fire Station 5 is a distinctive and recognizable fixture along this busy waterway. Fire Station 5 is one of the busiest fire stations in the city and provides key services for a substantial part of the Seattle Fire Department’s downtown service area. Originally built in 1963, the fire station was in need of significant upgrades to meet many current seismic, safety, and accessibility codes. Renovations for crew, administrative, and support areas were also needed. Bassetti designed a comprehensive renovation to the building and pier structure, including seismic reinforcement, building systems renovation, and sustainability improvements.
As a notable example of mid-century modern architecture, the station is designated a Seattle Landmark. As a result, interventions needed to be sensitive to the building’s original character-defining features. Working closely with the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, the design team created an infill to increase the building’s footprint without significant impact to the exterior aesthetic. The additional square footage allowed for an on-site gym for the crew and a welcoming foyer for visitors. These two spaces are separated by a translucent wall graphic of a 1927 fireboat that was previously housed at this station and provides a subtle barrier between public and private areas. In addition, the strategic reorganization of the station’s layout has improved its functional efficiency. Operational areas such as the apparatus bay, and office and maintenance spaces strategically occupy the first floor, many of which are on view for the public. Private crew spaces, including bunk rooms and the beanery (dining and gathering area) are located on the second floor, more remote from public view. Through a rigorous design review process, including input from users at regular milestones, the construction phase went smoothly and the remodeled building now serves as a point of pride for the community.