Seattle Parks & Recreation

Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) Roof & Skylight Replacement and Seismic Upgrade


Located in Seattle’s Volunteer Park and designated a city of Seattle Landmark, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) is a distinctive and classic structure built in 1933 of the “Art Moderne,” Art Deco style.  SAAM was designed by Carl F. Gould of the architectural firm Bebb and Gould.  Gould was also head of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture and principal architect of the University’s “college gothic” buildings. SAAM was originally home to the Seattle Art Museum’s main collection, and is now a museum of Asian art.

The building was experiencing leaking to the interiors from the aging roof and skylight areas. The skylight design is a prominent feature of the building — Covering one-third (6,100 sf) of the roof area and providing filtered light to the gallery spaces. It was critical to retain the period look and aesthetic while stabilizing and upgrading the roof and skylight.  At SAAM the original design architects realized the importance of daylight in displaying art and organizing the building. Thus, luminosity through the skylight was carefully planned through design, materials selection and installation to ensure proper (and adequate) natural lighting to the gallery spaces below. The original glass ceiling sandwiched in-between the skylight and the gallery was retained.

S.M. Stemper Architects:

  • Designed a new multi-ply modified bitumen built-up roof system to replace the single-ply EPDM ballasted membrane system.
  • Replaced the failed fiberglass panel skylight system. The new skylight system is an aluminum frame, translucent and insulated glass skylight system that softens the bright daylight for the gallery spaces below, and significantly improves energy efficiency.
  • Other elements: New fall protection system; Seismic upgrade to existing building structure; and Building envelope improvements.


1400 East Prospect Street, Seattle WA