50th Anniversary

On June 19th 2019, we celebrated our 50th anniversary! During the event we highlighted several projects from the more than 1200 projects we have reviewed since 1968.  Please click here to see the handout from the event.  Although our event is over, we still want to hear about your favorite projects!  Click on the "Get Involved" tab to learn how you can get involved.

Celebrating 50 years of design excellence

This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary!  To honor 50 years of design excellence in the City of Seattle we are highlighting projects we have reviewed over the past 50 years that elevate the role of public space, are equitable, and are representative of our communities and/or city.

In order to better understand which projects are most valued by community members, we need your help!  Please click on the 'Background' tab to learn about the types of projects we review as well as the types of projects we aim to highlight as part of our 50th anniversary celebration.  Then click on the 'Get Involved" tab to learn how you can get involved.

Get involved

Project recognition

Over the past 50 years we have reviewed more than 1200 projects ranging from neighborhood and city facilities such as parks, fire stations, and community centers to larger, regional projects addressing urban design, mobility, and environmental issues.  We will not give individual awards to projects, as we have done previously with Design Excellence Awards, which are held biennially.  Rather, we will highlight projects that have been reviewed in the past 50 years that address one or more of the following:

  • Emblematic of Seattle - The location, building, or site represents the ideals, identity, or unique character of Seattle
  • Pronounced impact on the neighborhood - The location, building, or site is a fundamental element of what makes your neighborhood unique
  • Elevated the role of public places or spaces - The design of the site, building, or overall location represents the best elements of design through architecture, landscape, materials, or related elements
  • Advanced the notion of equity - The location, building, or site is a space for all, designed for all, and reflects the identity of the community

The better understand the types of projects we review, click here to view an interactive map of the projects we reviewed from 2015 to 2018.

How to get involved

In order to better understand which projects are most valued by community members, we need your help! Click on the image below to access our interactive map, identify projects, such as a park, fire station, library, or other public facility, that you feel like elevates the role of public space within your community.


Who we are

We were established in 1968 to advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on the design of capital improvement projects that are located on City land, in the City right-of-way, or constructed with City funds. We provide key recommendations on the aesthetic, environmental, and design principals and policies applied to these projects. We give advice through the entire process, from the initial contract selection to the design concept and project construction. We are made up of 10 commissioners from the design, planning, engineering, and arts community and are supported by four staff. Click here to learn more about what we do.

Types of projects we review

We review Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects for City departments. CIP projects are City-funded, built on City property (including City-owned right-of-way), or require a City approval. Typical CIP projects include parks, fire stations, police stations, libraries, and other public facilities. We also review major local, regional, and state transportation projects occuring within the city such as light rail, waterfront seattle, and State Route 520 redevelopment.

We also play a key role in evaluating projects that propose the vacation of a street or alley to allow new development, the construction of a new skybridge, or the reauthorization of an existing skybridge. We advise the Seattle Department of Transportation on whether the vacation of the street or alley negatively affects the remaining right-of-way and on how those impacts are mitigated through proposed public benefits. Public benefits are primarily public space improvements like widened sidewalks, new open spaces, or improvements to the surrounding streets or alleys.  Click here to learn more about our review process.