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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Towering Building; Empowering Building

posted by on March 25 at 15:00 PM

Two proposed developments are up for design recommendations tonight. The meetings are open to the public.

Filling in Fifth Avenue

For the first time in decades, the College Club didn’t hold its Easter brunch in the brown 1960s building on 5th and Madison. Both the club building (at the end of the block) and the adjacent offices are slated for demolition.


This is Schnitzer Northwest’s vision for the site.


NBBJ Architects; here’s a different view, from the other side (pop-up).

This rendering – the result of design guidance from the city and revisions by the architects – is neither awesome nor offensive. At 40-stories, the tower would almost disappear into the downtown skyline of taller buildings (zoning there allows buildings to reach from 450’ to unlimited height). The slight variations in the roofline, gentle curves, and palate of gray crosshatching are typical of the current development wave.

No question, however, this proposal makes a better use of the space than the squat buildings there now. The rooftop deck (pop-up) begs for a Manhattan and a cigar, and the ground floor relates well to the street.


But why not something bolder, unique? According to a Department of Planning and Development report on a presentation last year, the developer and architect said the design would, “Not over manipulate the façade design and tower shape but have a ‘simplicity and Clarity’ that will confuse the surrounding architectural context.” What does that mean?

The architects, developers, and their PR firm have declined to comment. So, if you want to find out more, head to the second design-recommendation meeting tonight and ask questions. It’s at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall—600 4th Ave, room L280. More about the proposal and after-hours access to City Hall here.

Bakhita Gardens

A proposed development at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Bell Street could bring the watchful eyes of up to 90 full-time residents to a historically sketchy intersection. The Archdiocesan Housing Authority – with city, county, state, and federal assistance – is backing a proposed development to provide low-income housing for women.


But since the Archdiocesan Housing Authority funds it, I wondered, would residents be required to partake in mass or consume the body of Christ to qualify? What if they’re allergic to wafers?

“There’s absolutely no requirement related to faith, worship, or anything like that,” says Brian Lloyd of Beacon Development Group, the contracted devlopment firm. “Part of the church’s mission is to create affordable housing and services.” According to its Web site, the AHA currently provides 1880 housing units at 42 properties. Sweet Jesus.


Environmental Works; also, here’s the perspective from Bell Street (pop-up)

The lower floors would provide “congregate housing” (like a shelter, except the residents can stay all day) for up to 40 women, and the upper floors would provide 50 single-occupancy housing units (like studios with half-kitchens). “The idea is to transition women from the streets to permanent housing,” says Lloyd. “There will be case management on site to help women take the next step, which is the upper level of the project.” The ground-floor facing 2nd Avenue would contain 2500 square feet of retail.

The site is currently home to the Recovery Café, which provides shelter at night. “One big difference is this entire building will be a 24/7 facility,” says Lloyd.

At tonight’s meeting, architects and developers will respond to previous design guidance. It’s at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall.

RSS icon Comments


I'm sure I speak for a considerable segment of the readership when I say this architecture shit is boring.

Posted by Truth | March 25, 2008 3:17 PM

I disagree completely. Seattle's frenzied development is impossible to keep up with. Holden's posts are a boon for the laypeople who live and work among the fences and cranes.

Posted by Mr. Spider | March 25, 2008 3:28 PM

That 505 Madison building looks a lot like the WaMu Center.

Posted by MoTown | March 25, 2008 3:36 PM

I love these posts. I like to see what's being built in Seattle. Awesome job to the Archdiocesan Housing Authority too.

Posted by poppy | March 25, 2008 3:38 PM

Anything that replaces the College Club building can't be a bad thing.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 3:43 PM

Architecture posts rock!

Posted by Big Sven | March 25, 2008 3:50 PM

I'll take a design that's a good neighbor (i.e., "neither awesome nor offensive") any day over the crap that constantly gets built in this town. Sure wish our design review boards had even more teeth.

Posted by Polka Party | March 25, 2008 3:51 PM

I live on 3rd and Bell, and let me just tell you--the more the merrier. I would love to see more people like me (single women) living in that neighborhood, as opposed to just never-emerging condo-dwellers and the patrons of Kelly's. The streets are kind of sketchy at night, but I love the idea of more low to mid-income housing there. I live in an HRG building and I want to have some friends around!

Posted by Ari Spool | March 25, 2008 3:51 PM

The Design Review Board should have the power to order summary executions.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 25, 2008 3:57 PM

rooftop decks rule. so do architectural posts.

Posted by infrequent | March 25, 2008 4:04 PM

Not all stories are equal. forty stories of office might be 550 feet tall, compared to forty stories of apartments being about 420 and forty stories of hotel being more like 390.

Posted by Andrew | March 25, 2008 4:06 PM

i join the chorus of holden fans. nicely done, sir.

Posted by dpa | March 25, 2008 4:06 PM

Andrew has a point, and there are many of us who love these architecture posts, even if we disagree on buildings.

I like the 40 story version we're seeing now, but the devils in the details. For example, the mix of uses, does it have daycare and small retail, what price ranges for apartments or are they condos - are we still building giant buildings for the ultra-rich to upper middle class or are these oriented to at least 50 percent median income for say 20-40 percent of the mix - and are they interleaved so we don't get "ghettos" ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 25, 2008 4:23 PM

That's true, Andrew. But at 40 stories, it's unlikely to break 500 feet and thus stand out much. The building across the street, 901 Fifth Ave, is 536 feet with 42 stories, and it's only the 11th tallest building downtown. The design is still good enough, it's just not much of a statement in one of the few zones where developers are allowed to build as tall as they can.

Posted by Dominic Holden | March 25, 2008 4:33 PM

Boring, but not hideous. I'd say a net win.

Posted by Westside forever | March 25, 2008 4:45 PM

Looks like HalfLife's Citadel

Posted by SeanD | March 25, 2008 4:55 PM

Dang, I was trying to be slick.
Og well, here's the image:

Posted by SeanD | March 25, 2008 4:58 PM

I love these posts, they really give a flavor of what's happening in Seattle and what our city is gonna look like in 2, 5, 10 years down the road, and as far as I can tell this is the only place in town to get this information. Several times Dom has scooped the big dailies and architecture mags on new development around the city.

As for both of these projects, yay!

Posted by NaFun | March 25, 2008 5:03 PM

"...watchful eyes of up to 90 full-time residents to a historically sketchy intersection."

Watchful eyes? It's transitional housing and a day shelter. Not sure how watchful those eyes will be.

Posted by twee | March 25, 2008 5:12 PM

Have to agree with @18 - if it wasn't for The Stranger, we'd get no local news at all about what our city is changing into.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 25, 2008 5:46 PM

I appreciate the posts, Dominique. Keep it up! ...While not striking, the tower is definitely an improvement over the current building.

Posted by Fitz | March 25, 2008 6:27 PM

The idea for this housing rocks, but I hope Wasabi bistro doesn't get knocked out of their space for this. The Beast rocks!

Posted by jm | March 25, 2008 8:39 PM

Man that's hideous.

Posted by greg | March 25, 2008 8:58 PM

The Archdiocese has been a good neighbor in Belltown and a lot Belltowners would welcome them expanding their efforts.
My question is why do so many of Seattle's other neighborhoods suck so completely at welcoming social services into their neighborhoods?

Posted by Zander | March 25, 2008 11:19 PM

Nimbyism run amok is most of it.

Posted by gnossos | March 25, 2008 11:32 PM

architecture posts rule.

Posted by js | March 26, 2008 8:45 AM

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