Architecture is an instructive measure of the times. Seattle's Smith Tower, completed in 1914, yields a broad-shouldered, Western confidence. The 1962 Space Needle is a monument to science and the space age. The accordion-shaped Seattle Central library, designed by Rem Koolhaas, expresses fin de siecle grandiosity. Or, well, it expresses something.
The new Bullitt Center rising near Capitol Hill could be the most innovative and symbol-laden building yet. The solar-paneled roof will make it look as if it's balancing a giant mortar board on its head. Or does it resemble a glass birdhouse? Either way, the Center is the apotheosis of cool, farsighted design, with an energy-saving mission likely to be copied and scaled nationwide.
"An office building that lasts 250 years with no monthly electricity or water bills? It may sound like an environmentalist’s pipe dream, but it will soon be a reality, say the builders of what they hope will be the biggest office tower in the nation that produces as much water and electricity as it consumes," MSNBC's Miguel Llanos writes. "The $30 million, six-story 'living building' is being spearheaded by Denis Hayes and Jason McLennan, who believe they can save the world one building at a time by reducing the massive energy appetites of modern cities."
The Northwest produces railheads (you know who you are.) These wonks, who crunch figures and study transportation patterns with a Talmud-like intensity, have pestered lawmakers and journalists since the inception of Sound Transit. Look closer, they tell you. Don't believe the bureaucrats. (Close your eyes and you can hear the voice of Gene Hackman portraying the paranoid Harry Caul in 1974's The Conversation.) Just like Caul, these railhead critics can get it right. Consider the Sounder, for example.
"It costs taxpayers more than $57 for each rider to take the Sounder commuter train from Everett to Seattle — and that's just one way," the Herald's Bill Sheets writes. "For Sound Transit Express buses, it costs taxpayers $4.33 for each rider between the same destinations. The standard adult train fare between Everett and Seattle is $4.50. The bus fare is $3.50." Who crunched the numbers? A retired planner (and de facto railhead) named James MacIsaac.
Want to ease Olympia's budget woes? Legalize dope and tax it. The Stranger's Dominic Holden highlights a report from the state's Office of Financial Management that documents the potential windfall if Initiative 502 passes this fall. "The long and short of it: Taxing and regulating the marijuana industry would generate — including excise, B&O, and retail taxes — an annual revenue of roughly $564 to $606 million in the first full year of legalization," Holden writes. Fine, but what about the attendant decline in productivity when everyone stumbles around stoned all day? (anticipate this as the cranky-grandpa retort.)
The government's laser-like focus on PTSD and returning servicemembers, a focus underlined again by the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, is revealing new and disturbing facts regarding treatment. Now Madigan Hospital is under renewed scrutiny for a pattern of PTSD reversals. The great unspoken question is whether PTSD has been overdiagnosed or if Madigan doctors are simply cutting corners.
"A Madigan Army Medical Center screening team reversed more than 40 percent of the post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses of patients under consideration for medical retirement since 2007, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray," the Seattle Times' Hal Bernton writes. "The statistics were compiled as part of an ongoing Army Medical Command investigation into the screening team's practices. The team has been suspended from PTSD evaluations, and the Army Medical Command is offering new evaluations to patients whose diagnoses were reversed."
Lastly, God bless former Mariner Jamie Moyer who, at 49, is still pitching in the major leagues. As the New York Times' Tyler Kepner writes, " He is fighting for a job in the Colorado Rockies' starting rotation, competing with several pitchers who were not born when he pitched his first major league game, in 1986." An inspiring piece for aging athletes (and scribes).
The Herald, "Taxpayers footing bill for Sounder commuters"
Seattle Times, "40 percent of PTSD cases at Madigan were reversed"
New York Times, "At 49, Jamie Moyer is slower, but not stopping"