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Clise Properties’ Twin Tower Complex Approved by Seattle Design Review Board

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By Kristin Bentley

Members of the Downtown Design Review Board in Seattle voted unanimously on Jan. 20 to approve a modified design for Clise Properties’ Twin Tower Complex project in the Denny Triangle. The approval came in the second design review meeting held for the project, which was last presented in April 2015. At that time the board had given recommendations for changes in the skyline, some architectural details and the façade.

Block V, as the architects from Graphite Design Group are calling this half block mixed-use project located at 2301 Seventh Avenue, consists of 638 residential units occupying two 40-story towers over a 10-story podium. The podium is five floors of Class A office space (173,175 sq. ft.), four floors of apartment units with 750 above-ground parking stalls, a retail ground floor (10,700 sq. ft.) with building entries and multiple rooftop terrace levels. The design includes features such as a cycle track that keeps cyclists separated from vehicles, and a widened sidewalk that welcomes pedestrians to Bell Street’s amenities. The site anchors the northwest corner of the Denny Triangle, where Dexter Avenue becomes Seventh Avenue.

“When I look at the ground floor I’m really impressed with all the things they are doing, the open space, the cycle track. They took into context everything that was going on around them”

Originally, three different design possibilities were presented to the board. Option 1, “The Cubist,” comprises three nearly identical cubed forms stacked vertically on a podium, each segment broken into four interwoven façades separated by a vertical reveal. Some of the façades are angled to reflect the grid shift and maximize view opportunities. Option 2, “The Angle,” comprised of two nearly identical footprints angled 45 degrees to Seventh Avenue. As a result, the longer axis of each building runs north to south or east to west. Unlike Option 1, the tower and podium weave together creating interesting resultant geometries.

Option 3, “The Grid,” comprises a non-symmetrical composition with the intent to have the towers look past each other more than the other two options. This option integrates elements of the previous options with angles and vertical breaks. The podium takes on the angled vernacular and steps three times to provide a scale transition from the park to the larger podium and secondary buildings of the emerging Denny Triangle Structure.

What was chosen by the design team was a modified combination of Options 1 and 2, resulting in a design intended to resemble melting ice cubes. The residential towers are sculpted as cubist blocks, stacked to provide variation and contrast to neighboring towers. “I wanted to add some interest to it,” said Brian Hoskins, one of the lead architects on the project.

“I think it’s a really interesting design,” said Murphy McCullough, Developmental Representative for the Downtown Design Review Board. “For the longest time we’ve been seeing some very similar residential towers. But over the last couple of months we’ve seen more buildings that don’t look like everything else in Seattle, which I personally like.”

“When I look at the ground floor I’m really impressed with all the things they are doing, the open space, the cycle track,” McCullough added. “They took into context everything that was going on around them. To me, that is extremely impressive, so I applaud them.”