UNTIL EARLIER THIS YEAR, SEATTLEITES WERE MORE LIKELY TO SEE ZACK BOLOTIN SERVING UP LATTES AT PORCHLIGHT COFFEE THAN WANDERING LOCAL NEIGHBORHOODS BEHIND THE LENS OF A POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA. But after purchasing a Fujifilm x100f, which he notes is, small, easy to carry, and “mostly used for street photography,” Bolotin, who is known for his branding and design work in the music and arts scenes (he also opened Porchlight nearly a decade ago), started snapping shots of midcentury buildings around the Puget Sound region.
A selection of these images is now available in a recently released volume, aptly titled Mid Seattle. Featuring just over two-dozen buildings ranging from multi-family residential to long-running commercial (SPUD Fish and Chips on Alki, The Swedish Club just east of Queen Anne), the book takes a look at architecture from the 1930s through the 1970s—styles that are coming down at a rapid clip thanks to the rising prices of land and fast pace of development.
“My family has been in Seattle for so long,” says Bolotin, who grew up just northeast of Seattle in Woodinville, Washington. “There are a lot of buildings around that have random family connections.” (Bolotin’s grandfather, formerly the vice president of erstwhile trade magazine Architecture West, once worked in the building gracing the cover of Mid Seattle).
Midcentury design has become ragingly popular over the past decade (especially in the Northwest), but Bolotin contends that he’s not just chasing trends. “I’m really fascinated by [midcentury design’s] popularity,” he says. “Of course there are the clean lines and distinct colors, but there is also a sense of nostalgia attached… these are relics from our parents and from their parents.”
Bolotin has a mix of methods for finding the places he photographs. Sometimes he sets out to a specific neighborhood with the intention of finding a certain address (“Oftentimes once I find one house or building, then it turns out there are others nearby,” he notes). Other buildings were randomly stumbled upon or found via a database on the King County website.
From sharp angles and stone-laden facades to quirky stair-railing details, the architecture featured on each page of Mid Seattle is a unique marker of a bygone era that still has a hold on design lovers today. For Bolotin, it was more of a preservation project than anything else. “There is such a lack of permanence with the development happening in Seattle today, “he says. “Buildings are coming down so fast, I don’t want us to wake up one day and not even have images of them.” It turns out that Bolotin isn’t the only one thinking this way: the first run of Mid Seattle sold out within a week, and people have sent him enough suggestions of additional houses, apartment buildings, and commercial structures to fill up another volume… something he admits is definitely on his radar.
“I have a map on my phone with dozens and dozens of pins marking places I want to shoot,” he says with a laugh. “There is definitely enough for one or two more books.”
To purchase a copy and see additional images, visit the Mid Seattle website.