A block away from the Rem Koolhaas–designed Seattle Public Library, the new restaurant at the W Seattle Hotel, Trace, designed by Portland-based Skylab Architecture, combines Pacific Northwest iconography with flexible programming.
Reconnecting three existing zones—lobby, bar, and dining—was a priority, explained Jeff Kovel, principal at Skylab. The result is a dramatic 30-foot-tall and 160-foot-long space that melds eclectic music, aviation, wharf, and forest elements, all inspired by the local surroundings. The lobby, lined in colorful album-cover wallpaper, contains a four-story circular fireplace lined with stainless-steel panels. The 100-seat dining room features a lenticular printed mural that shifts between the image of a jellyfish and jet, depending on where patrons are sitting.
Many elements serve double duty: the dining room can host a dance party, equipped with a pull-out stage and dance floor; the lobby is both a lounge and a library; and the bar converts into an espresso stand in the morning. Kovel is most excited about the modular, digitally fabricated barrels that serve as both lighting and support columns: “The result is a beautiful sculptural light wall with abstract references to wharf pilings, timber frame structures, and native carved totems,” he noted.