Document Type

Case Study

Publication Date



Cathryn Vandenbrink


Susan Kunimatsu


The opening of the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square marked a pivotal point in the fight for artist live/work spaces in Seattle, Washington. Pioneer Square had been an arts enclave for over a century, where artists advocated for their own place in the infrastructure of the city. The Tashiro and Kaplan buildings were built in the early 1900’s and were home to prominent businesses in the area for decades. In the 1980’s, King County purchased the Tashiro Kaplan lot as part of the Third Avenue bus tunnel project. The Pioneer Square Community Development Organization, founded and led by Cathryn Vandenbrink, conducted a study in the 1990’s to document how space was being used, lost and sold; and how those changes affected the residents of Pioneer Square. The study identified artists as an at-risk population in the neighborhood and led to a grant from the Neighborhood Planning Office to study the feasibility of an artist live/work project in Pioneer Square. In 1997, a symposium titled “Pioneer Square: A Place for Artists” identified the Tashiro Kaplan lot for redevelopment by Artspace Projects Inc. The Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts (The TK) opened in 2004, providing live/work space for fifty artists and their families, as well as space for 15 independent galleries. The TK is a well-known destination on the Pioneer Square Art Walk and its success led to the development of four other properties in greater King County.

Organization or Event

Tashiro Kaplan Building

Form of Entity


Area of Activity

Arts in Community Development, Arts in Social Services, Services for Artists, Venue/Facility

Artistic Discipline

Multidisciplinary Arts