By Meghan Hall
Seattle’s Yesler Terrace community has a storied history of economic and cultural diversity, something neighborhood organizations, city officials and developers are taking careful steps to preserve amidst the sweeping transformation hitting the neighborhood due to new development. However, one affordable housing project will return for an additional design recommendation meeting after the East Design Review Board determined that the design proposal did not adequately address previous concerns raised by the board regarding the project’s overall design and place within the neighborhood.
The 126-unit project, located at 100 10th Ave. S., will be the product of a partnership between the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), Pyatok and HEWITT Architecture. Amenities such as a 2,340 square foot public garden, a 9,157 square foot courtyard, a 522 square foot library and public art. 1,996 square feet of community gathering space are also planned. The development will be known as “Hinoki,” and it is the fifth project undertaken by the SHA at Yesler Terrace, which committed to revitalizing 30 acres and 561 units across Yesler Terrace in 2006.
The project—as are others driven by the SHA at Yesler Terrace—are driven by four main values, according to project documents: social equity, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship and sustainability and one-for-one replacement housing.
“Hinoki prioritizes a sensitive and nuanced approach to its embodiment of the Core Values, guided by the belief that Yesler Terrace is a whole community,” the project documents state. “Buildings should not exist in isolation, nor should they be disassociated from their overall context because of economic, cultural or political lines. Yesler Terrace is richer in every sense of the word for its layers and inter-meshings.”
SHA and the project team have proposed three buildings anchored by an inner courtyard. Two of the buildings, to be called Main House and Jetty House, will be unified through similar massing, materiality and color, while the third, called Garden House, will act as its own unique feature. Main and Jetty Houses will be clad in dark grey metal cladding, red brick, laminated timber, among other accents, while an orange gasket will act as a connector and bridge in between the two buildings. The Garden House’s massing will be composed of simple planes, with crisp white panels used as a feature element along with shimmering metal “scales.”
Much of the board’s feedback, while it did acknowledge the complexities of the site and of creating a viable affordable housing development, presented significant concerns. Project documents indicate that the Board’s perception of the project was that its design evolution since the previous early design guidance meeting in August of 2018 was not adequate. Across all three buildings, the board noted the general lack of secondary architectural detailing that would aid in breaking down the massing of the project, and stated that the facades appeared as large, flat volumes. The board also stated that the previous unique-ness and stand-alone quality of the garden house had been lost amidst the revisions made to the project’s design, and recommended a more exaggerated, scaled-up size complemented by exotic materials. With these recommendations in mind, the board asked the development team to return for a second recommendation meeting to address its concerns.
The SHA returned this week for that meeting, in which the development team presented several changes to its design. The massing of the garden house was altered so that instead of a simple rectangle a cant was inserted adding to the angularity of the building and creating an entrance space between the entrance and a large, “exceptional” tree in front. A wedge-shaped overhang and aluminim shingles provide further differnation of the Garden House from the Main and Jetty houses.
Secondary details were added to all buildings through window depth, window groups and patterns. Wood block facades help to anchor the Main and Jetty houses, and aluminum shingles were added to reflect additional light along the project’s south facade.
With these changes in mind, the review board approved the project to move forward. Until the project is completed, however, the immediate blocks surrounding the property are a hub of redevelopment activity. The project site is located on a block off of East Yesler Way, where numerous other development projects are in the works. 110 10th Ave. S. is adjacent to the Yesler Terrace Community Center. The Yesler Terrace community park is currently under construction, as are two additional residential developments: Modera at 125 Boren and 120 Broadway. The two developments will bring 288 and 237 units to market, respectively. Several other projects, such as one at 209 12th Ave. S. and a pocket park next to Hoi Mai gardens, have been proposed.