Opened in 1950, the Seattle restaurant epitomizes the period’s Northwest Modern movement. 

By Caitlin Petreycik
March 12, 2019
Kevin Scott

Canlis, the legendary Seattle restaurant maintained by three generations of the Canlis family—Peter, the OG owner who built it in 1950; his son Chris, who took it over with his wife Alice in 1977; and Brian and Mark, the original Canlis’s grandsons who have helmed the restaurant over the last decade—will be honored with the James Beard Foundation's 2019 Design Icon Award. Designed by Roland Terry, the building (an example of the period's Northwest Modern movement) is flooded with natural light through its raked glass walls, which offer panoramic views of Lake Union and the Cascade mountain range. Terry was heavily inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, an influence that can be seen in the structure's "natural materials, enormous hearth, low covered drive, and sensitive siting," according to a press release issued by the James Beard Foundation. 

Some guidelines on the Design Icon Award: In order to qualify, a dining establishment’s design "must have remained substantially unchanged for at least 20 years and must have influenced and inspired the design of subsequent restaurants." Also, the restaurant must still be in operation.

"Somehow, this nomination, this award means so much more than all the others,” Mark Canlis, co-owner of Canlis, said in a statement. “It's a culmination of what our grandfather set out to do, what our parents so diligently worked towards, and to what we've been doing for 15 years now. Three generations of building and running and redefining the most beautiful restaurant we can. To be honored like this is such an affirmation, a big honor. And I mean this as sincerely as I can: I think we're just getting started." This isn't the first time Canlis has picked up a James Beard—in 2017 (after ten nominations in various categories), the restaurant was honored with the foundation's Outstanding Wine Program Award. 

Tickets for this year's awards ceremony in Chicago go on sale Wednesday, March 27. To find out how to watch the broadcast live, keep your eye on the James Beard Foundation's Twitter account. 

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