historic ins building comes alive


There has been some buzz for awhile in the arts community about the old U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Building at the edge of the International district of Seattle. Known formally as the U.S. Immigrant Station and Assay Office, the building opened in 1932, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was sold in April, 2008, for $4.4 million to INS Holdings LLC, a group of Seattle-area developers, attorneys, contractors, and architects.

Ever since the sale, many of us have been watching to see what this historic building would become.

INS Holdings LLC has transitioned the building into INSCAPE, which “creates a forum for possibilities; a collaboration with artists and artisans, creative individuals and organizations, the neighborhood and the city, to build a mutually supportive alliance that engages the Greater Seattle community in the experience of art and the celebration of culture.”

HelenGambleOn October 16th and 17th visual and performing artists activated the building with installations, performances and miniature golf. Many artists, inspired by the history of the building, created site-specific installations. Visual artists including, Helen Gamble, Katy Krantz, Michael Lyons, Christian French, Jen Mills, Ju-Pong Lin and Gail Howard to name a few. Performances by Danse Perdue, Manifold Motion, Gargle Blasters, Ashcomb, Phase 3 and Prints of Chin and others, provided a lot of energy for this emerging cultural center.

Visual artist Julie Haack was the first of 125 tenants  in this 77,000 square feet building. INSCAPE is seeking more creative businesses, individuals and non profit organizations with a focus in arts and culture to use the space. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Sam Farrazaino. Photographer Chris Hunt documented the event.

We asked some of the tenant artists how they felt about working in a building with such a powerful, often tragic history. One of them told us,  “It’s the people, not the building that made those things happen. Now the building can have a whole new life, a new history.” We agree. bring it on!

© 2010 Installation by Helen Gamble, Photo: Katy Krantz