By Jack Stubbs
The waterfront neighborhood of Ballard—just west of Fremont and about five miles north of Seattle’s Central Business District—has seen several development’s progressing throughout the city’s Design Review process in recent months, and another new project slated for the neighborhood was given the green light earlier this year.
At an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting held in late May 2019, the Northwest Design Review Board approved the project team’s plans for a seven-story hotel project located at 1766 NW Market St., which will ultimately 120 upscale guest-rooms, an amenity filled ground floor and one floor of below-grade parking with 30 stalls. At the meeting, the project team—which includes owner 1766 NW Market Street LLC based in Kent and Seattle-based architect CLARK | BARNES—received feedback from the board about its proposed massing options and various urban design concepts around the streetscape and landscaping elements.
Located in the Ballard Hub Urban Village, the proposed development is across the street from a number of community amenities including Swedish Hospital, Nordic Museum, and the Ballard Public Library., and is also a short walk from the historic Ballard Ave.
According to its submitted design proposal, the applicant team is ultimately looking to create a project that emphasizes the existing neighborhood attributes, while also integrating various “placemaking” elements that pay homage to the cultural and historical context of the neighborhood. As one notable example, the design team is proposing cross laminated timber (CLT) as the structural system for the project, which is a nod to the historical role and influence that timber has played in the creation of Ballard: Ballard’s first lumber mill was built in 1888 followed by a shingle mill the same year—after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, many people moved to Ballard for jobs in the Mills, which encouraged further growth in the area.
The applicant team’s priority Seattle Design Guidelines for the development include creating a massing and scale that is appropriate for the surrounding neighborhood context; creating a facade that compliments the exterior character of proximate existing buildings; and successfully creating a streetscape plan through a variety of landscaping elements, way-finding elements and carefully-designed plaza entries.
According to the report summary of the meeting provided by SDCI, the board supported the applicant’s preferred massing option and supported the concept of a street-level podium, but also asked the applicant to provide more detailed project plans, moving forward, to further clarify the relationship between the ground-level amenity space and nearby open space. The board also approved the team’s proposed use of CLT for the building’s facade, and also asked the applicant to provide more detailed project plans about how the building’s exterior would fit with the broader street-level character along NW Market St.
The applicant team did not request any Departures at the time of the EDG meeting. As the project team further refines its design proposal for the development—it has submitted a Master Use Permit (MUP) for review by SDCI—the board requested that further consideration be given to priority Design Guidelines including how the project would respond to the features of the site; how the building’s overall architectural character would complement the historical fabric Ballard; and how to create a project that would enhance the pedestrian experience (through effective circulation, and various lighting, way-finding and signage elements).
The board’s summary also highlighted the importance of a project design that would encourage multiple forms of transportation including walking, biking and access to public transportation, the latter of which will be especially important considering Sound Transit’s multi-year expansion of the city’s Light Rail network called Sound Transit 3 (ST3)—which will expand the currently-20-mile light rail system to more than 50 miles by 2023 and will ultimately more than double the regional light rail system to total 116 miles comprising over 80 stations by 2041.
The West Seattle and Ballard Link extensions will add nearly 12 miles to the existing light rail system. The West Seattle extension (encompassing five stations and set for completion in 2030) will add 4.7 miles of light rail service from downtown Seattle to West Seattle’s Alaska Junction, while the Ballard extension (set for completion in 2035), will add 7.1 miles across nine stations between downtown Seattle and Ballard, one of which will be located on NW Market Street, according to Sound Transit’s web site.
The CLARK | BARNES-designed hotel project is not the only development looking to add a new dimension to the growing neighborhood in North Seattle. In mid-January 2019, the Northwest Design Review Board backed the proposal put forth by VIA Architecture, Carmel Partners, Urban Evolution and Murase Associates for Ballard Yards, a 171-unit, mix-use development located at 2417 NW Market St.