The lead architect for the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project provided the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board’s Architectural Review Committee with the latest design changes and additions on Friday, June 16.

“Today, we have kind of some loose ends,” said Sam Miller with LMN Architects.

The museum in Volunteer Park has been closed since late February, when the Seattle Art Museum began removing collections and other items for the $49 million renovation and expansion.

Constructed in 1933, the Asian art museum lacks air conditioning and climate controls, which has limited its ability to acquire traveling art collections. A number of walls consist of hollowed clay, so SAM will perform a major seismic upgrade to ensure the museum can survive a large earthquake.

SAM has its master use permit from the city, but now must receive a certificate of approval from the city landmarks board, which has final say on any alterations to designated landmarks.

ARC members responded favorably Friday to plans to rotate a new freight elevator next to the loading dock 90 degrees on the north side of the museum. Miller said this will minimize its visual impact, plus make more room for trucks to maneuver into place at the dock.

Restricting options there is a nearby atlas cedar, which is identified as an exceptional tree by the city, and therefore must be protected.

ARC was more concerned about a proposed elevated walkway and stairs that would wrap around rockery on the north side of the museum, leading to an employee entrance. The bridge would be elevated by three concrete piers, Miller said, who added digging holes for them would have to be done by hand in order to not damage the roots of the atlas cedar.

ARC member Steven Treffers said he was concerned about the bridge blocking the rockery, and asked for more details to be provided when the project comes back before the committee.

The committee found no concerns with filling in some of the loading area, which is under a 1950s gallery addition. Miller said one of the north-facing windows would be moved to the second-floor art library. A south-facing window there was blocked by the 1950s addition, he said, and plans are to reopen that space.

“It’s the same style and similar size,” Miller said.

Committee members understood the need to remove portions of a chimney that runs through the interior of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, but didn’t respond favorably to SAM’s proposal to demolish the exterior structure.

“We don’t have a need for it,” Miller said. “It takes up space in the hallway, and there’s no functional use for it.”

Part of what the art museum needs to be able to guarantee, so it can acquire art on loan, is that it can maintain a consistent climate. That means installing a backup generator.

“They do lose power up there,” Miller said. “They have in the past.”

Miller said louvers — angled slats — are proposed on the east side 1947 addition to allow airflow in to cool the generator.

Treffers said he was fine with the louvers, but wanted to see windows in the basement retained. ARC member Deb Barker said she doesn’t want to see proposals that further erode the museum’s east facade.

“You’re picking away at it, and I’m not impressed,” she said, adding she wants to see a better alternative for generator ventilation.

The windows to the main west entry into the museum are not original, Miller said, and historic photos don’t make clear what glass and treatment was used before. The current laminated glass has a film to it that causes glare, and it also doesn’t provide transparency between the museum and park, he said.

SAM is proposing to replace them, adding a low ultraviolet film, then returning to ARC after a second film is tested for further light reduction.

Barker said she wants SAM to find a glass that can do the trick without adding films. ARC member Russell Coney said he looks forward to seeing what testing reveals, while Treffers said he was fine with new glazing.

Museum visitors will have access to a 1,200-square-foot park lobby from the third-floor garden court, the lobby providing views of the park.

The garden court needs airflow, Miller said, which means installing mechanical diffusers to control it. Duct work can be completed in the attic without casting a shadow on the skylight, he said, while running diffusers along the skylight.

“When you’re close to the wall, you can’t see it at all,” Miller said, “because the diffuser is actually over the wall.”

ARC members responded favorably to plans to remove carpeting on the museum’s third floor, which is covering masonite flooring that had been popular in the 1930s. Matching flooring will have to be laid over what they found under the carpet, Miller said.

“It’s beautiful, and we’d love to keep it,” he said of the original masonite, “but it’s also chopped up and not in good condition unfortunately.”

A significant amount of funding for the project has come from the city of Seattle and King County, but a large share also has come from private donors.

Miller brought up a new proposal on Friday, which is to provide donor signage somewhere in the project.

ARC members didn’t like that proposal, but said donor names could be etched into new ADA-accessible paths leading to the museum. They roundly rejected an option to put them around the museum’s original plints at the west entry, where two stone camels sit.

“The donor signage thing, for me, it’s a nonstarter,” Coney said, later adding he doesn’t favor donor signage being attached to public areas.

“I don’t like donor signage, even when I’ve donated,” Barker said, adding the only way that would be considered is if it’s on the pathways. “I don’t want them anywhere near those camels.”

While Miller said he didn’t come Friday with any updates on a contentious three-story east addition, it came up nonetheless.

Responding to the addition, which would take up 3,600 square feet of park space, the Protect Volunteer Park group was formed.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner dismissed PVP’s appeal of SAM’s master use permit for the project on June 7, but the group is committed to opposing the expansion through other means.

Resident Randy Urmsion said he supports preserving the museum, but not the expansion. He said SAM has not considered all of its alternatives, including expanding its downtown museum space.

Ron Taylor said underground expansions are not uncommon, and have been done at the Louvre in Paris, and at Smithsonian buildings in Washington, D.C.

Judy Tobin said she lives six blocks from the park, which she uses all the time. She also loves the museum, she said, and believes taking 3,600 square feet of park space is minor in relation to Volunteer Park’s large size.

The addition will include offices, a new meeting space and a 1,220-square-foot education and art-making space.

Tobin said more education about and highlighting of other cultures is more important than ever, given the current political climate in the United States.

Coney agreed with opponents to the addition, saying he also doesn’t think alternatives were explored thoroughly.

“I don’t think there was a lot of research into it,” he said.