Exhibition Coming Soon

At First Hill, we are using a tool that we’ve used quite often as a way of exchanging ideas on the future of our cities and communities. We’re holding a year-long exhibition and inviting the community into a conversation on this neighborhood’s evolution. We’re calling this exhibition The Common Good.

The Common Good

How can we spark an awakening in our society and renew the social contract?

In society today, many of the problems we face are a result of the breakdown in the concept of the common good. People have become disinterested in their obligations to each other and to the community.

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Advances in technology have far surpassed our ability to work with our technology productively and in the interests of society. Platforms that were originally thought of as ways to bring individuals together, have turned into devices that separate us, from our neighbors and the community at large. Our regulatory systems trail the market and the acceleration of new technologies has only widened this chasm.

The result is that self-interest cancels out the common good. The outcomes, other than the issues that flow from the greatest level of inequality in generations, are threats to our climate, to a well functioning citizenry and to our democracy.

Collectively, we need a reset. The consequence of the breakdown of the social contract has been a lapse in action and thought, for society’s greater interest.

The clearest example and most obvious existential threat to humanity is climate change and the destruction of the environment.

To respond, there must be an awakening to a systemic problem and a recognition that the social contract must be renewed.

This comes down to the values of our community. We believe the solution starts with strengthening the things that unite us in common purpose, as the individual without community is incomplete. How can we help each other recognize our obligations to our neighbors and society at large? If “economics simply does not traffic in morality”, how do we alter the attitude of a society? We have succeeded before, when rising to global challenges and now we need to again.

The Common Good is about asking these and other questions:

How can we spark an awakening in society and renew the social contract, to respond to challenges like climate change with urgency?

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First Hill has the vital ingredients of a distinct neighborhood, where the key elements developed over time, according to need and circumstance. Now, we have the opportunity to create a concentration of people, institutions, art and architecture, work and cultural facilities, within one vibrant 3 block by 6 block area. By concentrating all of this energy into one place, First Hill has the potential to become one of the most interesting in neighborhoods in Seattle and a model for sustainable communities around the world.

20220328 First Hill-Urban-Plan-Map

The St. James Cathedral has always been a gathering place for the First Hill neighborhood. When you layer on the Frye Art Museum, the hospitals, the high school, the universities, housing across the continuum, workspace, cultural institutions and retail, there is the potential to create a complete community, and bring another 4,000 to 5,000 people to the existing neighborhood. Read MoreThis community’s attributes will appeal most to those who share the values of city builders — people who believe in our ability to achieve more as part of a community than alone and who desire to congregate, engage and connect with one another to form neighborhoods. This community will perpetuate these values, attracting more people and drawing more resources, cultural and economic assets over time, to create one of the most diverse and inclusive neighborhoods in Seattle.

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We envision the St James Cathedral forming the central organizing element of this community, from which energy expands. In their locations on surrounding sites, the multi-family residential towers form the transepts and nave, conceptually extending the Cathedral outwards into the neighborhood. From this central structure, the design will further establish the community’s identity, through the public realm, art, landscaping and the architecture itself, all the way down to the streetscape. The initiative’s district energy system will harness the excess energy from nearby hospitals to provide energy for the housing, leveraging the principles of the sharing economy to provide a meaningful response to the climate emergency.

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Our Net Zero Initiative at First Hill

First Hill will be one of the largest decarbonization projects in North America, achieving CO2 reductions in excess of 12,000 tons year – equivalent to removing 2,200 cars from the road.

An integral part of the vision for First Hill is a zero-carbon district energy system developed by Creative Energy and Swedish Health Services, aimed at achieving carbon neutrality for First Hill by the end of the decade. The First Hill District Energy System will connect to a series of high-rise residential buildings created by the redevelopment to offer upwards of 2,000 low-carbon homes across the continuum for this community.

An Inspiring Low-Carbon Community Powered by District Energy

First Hill is part of a largescale net zero carbon initiative in Seattle. Led by Creative Energy, First Hill’s truly unique district energy system will not only provide renewable and resilient energy for its immediate residents, but will also serve as the catalyst to decarbonize the broader neighborhood, with its planned expansion leading the transition towards a post-carbon future. Watch the vision for our low-carbon community.

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