WIT Press

A Tale Of Two City Halls: Icons For Sustainability In London And Seattle


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WIT Press


D. Armpriest & B. Haglund


Recently two great cities—London and Seattle—have built new city hall buildings with a green agenda inspired by activist mayors—Ken Livingstone and Paul Schell. Their political agendas include a focus on planning and design activities that will help transform their cities for continued viability and livability in the face of increasing environmental challenges. In London, Livingstone carved out a congestion zone to allay mounting, gridlocked automobile traffic in the central city; it costs eight pounds a day to drive into central London. Meanwhile in Seattle, the city has implemented a green building agenda (LEED silver) for all public facilities, and the city has \“signed” the Kyoto Accord in defiance of the Bush administration’s stance. These new city halls are intentional symbolic icons marking their evolving visions for the future. Comparing the two buildings will reveal much about the commonalities and differences in approaches to sustainability in the United States and United Kingdom. Through the lenses of first-hand experience in the buildings, analysis of critical commentary, and comparative evaluation, we examine the mindsets of the two cultures. The analysis includes several key project characteristics that provide the basis of the comparison, including the design process, building image, public access, sustainable design strategies, and performance in these exemplar buildings. Keywords: sustainable architecture, building performance, city halls. 1 Introduction London and Seattle are both similar and different in ways we believe speak to cultural attitudes on sustainability. Both urban hubs have set an agenda for sustainable development and have used new city hall buildings as exemplars.


sustainable architecture, building performance, city halls.