THINGS BEN BUILT:
(while working with the union)
Harbor Steps North Tower, Seattle, finished exterior concrete panels
IDX Tower, 4th & Madison, Seattle, elevator core
Millenium Tower, 2nd Ave, Seattle, luxury interior finishes
Seaboard Building,Westlake Center, luxury condo renovations in historic building, interior finishes
Amazon.com Pac Med Parking Structure,structural concrete formwork
University of Washington Law Library, structural concrete formwork, masonry prep
University of Washington Indoor Practice Facility, concrete foundation
(80 foot deep pilings augered down to bedrock through Montlake infill), curved concrete walls
Everett Jail, structural concrete formwork
If it sounds a bit romantic, it’s because builders do feel that way about the art involved in their trade. Each of our carpenters have their own storied experience of how they came to do what they love and love what they do; this is owner, Ben's.
“I had my start as a union apprentice, fresh out of college with a BA in English from the UW, and I had no idea at the time how much this formal training would benefit me over the years. We covered all aspects of building through planned segments, and I learned everything from safe building practices to stick framing a roof during that time. Meanwhile, on the job, I had the privilege of working with master craftsmen, the kind who were multi-generational and salty (and yes, one of them worked on Benaroya because his grandpa built Carnegie). These workers were efficient, professional, and incredibly systematic. I emulate them in every way I can.
Amid my dabbling in the construction arts, I also explored my literary thirsts. I took a break while I pursued my MFA in Creative Writing at University of Arizona. After graduation I returned to Seattle and engaged residential work as a lead carpenter for RW Anderson and, several years later, JAS Design Build. It became simultaneously clear that 1) I would not make a living from writing, and 2) I truly enjoyed the structural arts.
This should have come as no surprise to me; I myself lay claim to a kind of heritage. My grandfather, Benjamin S. Notkin (see photo on the right), co-founded (with his uncle, James B.) the local Notkin Engineers (who, incidentally, helped engineer Benaroya) as well as Notkin Hawaii Inc. I am the nephew of four engineers and the son of one. It’s possible that only building would satisfy these disparate claims on my attention. So while my novel gets dusty somewhere beneath stacks of plans (not really—it’s on my computer), I measure out my days in lineal feet and square footage costs. And like my Benaroya-building friend, I do so with pride."