Sidewalk Prism Preservation

A comprehensive action plan is underway to complete an accessible guide and technical assistance for property owners in preserving the character-defining sidewalk prism panels in Pioneer Square. The guide will provide the much needed information for property owners to invest in restoring and maintaining the prisms in the sidewalks adjacent to their structures.

There is an urgent need to address safety issues that exist in the deteriorated panel systems and to halt the further destruction of the remaining historic fabric. According to a 2011 Seattle University study, there are over 19,000 areaway prisms throughout the Pioneer Square Historic District. Approximately half of these prisms are in need of repair. The prisms are not only historically advantageous for lighting the areaways below the street level, but they also contribute to the composition of the entryways and facades of buildings in the district. High volumes of pedestrians are traveling both above, at the street level, and below, as a part of the Underground Tour each day.

The Areaway Prism Action Plan project is an award recipient of the Landmarks 2011 matching grant from 4Culture. The plan will complete an approved work plan for two pilot project locations of the most prominent corners in the district. According to Seattle Municipal Code, adjacent property owners are responsible for the maintenance, repair, and safety of sidewalks. The Action Plan will identify opportunities for potential funding for the preservation and repair of the prominent feature of the prism glass panels. We are looking forward to sharing our progress in this effort.