Photo caption: From left to right: Bob Hale and Bob Kovalenko, principals of Kovalenko Hale Architects. Photo courtesy of Kovalenko Hale Architects.
Kovalenko Hale Architects will be honored on April 25, with Seattle Chinatown/International District Preservation and Development Authority’s (SCIDpda’s) Community Builder Award, at the annual ID Spring Roll event.
“Bob Hale and Bob Kovalenko have an unmatched commitment to the neighborhood,” said Michael Yee, director of community development for SCIDpda. “They will do large projects, but more importantly, the small projects. They have not just been a hired contractor, but an essential partner in the revitalization and preservation of the Chinatown-International District (CID).”
Kovalenko Hale originally started in 1976 in a space in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Then, in 1983, the firm relocated to its present location in Pioneer Square. The firm has had projects all over Washington state, with an expertise in renovating historic buildings.
“They go the extra mile for their clients,” agreed Paul Mar, director of real estate development for SCIDpda. “They are true friends of the community.”
Kovalenko Hale has had an ongoing presence in the CID since 1978, when the firm was hired to restore the Far East Building on 624 South Jackson Street.
“We’ve kind of become history buffs,” said Hale. “Throughout the project, the history unfolds, and it’s really interesting.”
The Far East Building project was one of Kovalenko and Hale’s favorite ones, as it was the beginning of their relationship with the neighborhood, as well as a long-standing friendship with recently deceased Wai Eng, the building’s owner at that time and former president of the Eng Suey Sun Family Association. Kovalenko Hale also worked with Eng on the Eng Suey Sun Plaza.
“Understanding the roots and how architecture has evolved over time gives you a better foundation in design,” said Kovalenko.
To date, the firm has worked on seven major renovations and two new buildings, in addition to numerous studies and tenant improvements in the CID.
“Without SCIDpda, InterIm [Community Development Association] and others, you wouldn’t see this happen,” said Kovalenko. “We really value them as clients. They are the real builders of the community.”
Kovalenko Hale began working with the SCIDpda in 2004, for the ID Village II Project, which includes a community center and branch library. The firm has also worked with the SCIDpda on “New Central Hotel,” a senior housing project, and on a succession of projects at the Bush Hotel. In addition to their work with SCIDpda, Kovalenko Hale has also worked with InterIm on the Eastern Hotel, Gee How Oak Tin and the Northern Pacific Hotel.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve done and we’re really appreciative of being honored for what we’ve done over the years,” said Kovalenko.
The national “urban renewal” trend in the 1960s destroyed neighborhoods, as many historic buildings were bulldozed to rebuild new ones, noted Hale. In Seattle, at one time, there was talk of tearing down the Pike Place Market and rebuilding it, and Pioneer Square was almost the parking lot for downtown, he added.
“We’re busy working away, looking at where our next project is,” said Kovalenko.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” agreed Hale.
The ID Spring Roll takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 25th, at the Georgetown Ballroom on 5623 Airport Way South in Seattle. To purchase tickets or learn more, please visit www.idspringroll.org.