Home AEC 127-Unit Apartment Building Planned for Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood

127-Unit Apartment Building Planned for Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood

Ballard, Seattle, Caron Architecture, Canal West LLC

By Catherine Sweeney

A proposed 127-unit apartment building is one step closer to reaching completion, following a meeting Monday night with the City’s design review board. During the meeting, developer Canal West presented early plans for a planned project in the city’s Ballard neighborhood, ultimately receiving approval from the board to continue on to a recommendation hearing. 

The project would be located at 5206 17th Avenue and is being designed by Caron Architecture. Overall, the completed development would reach seven stories and total 97,642 square feet. In addition, the project is set to include 30 vehicle parking spaces and 5,000 square feet of amenity space. 

The project site consists of three parcels bound by 17th Avenue NW to the west, 52nd and 53rd streets to the north and south. Several low and midrise buildings also line the site. 

During the meeting, the design team presented three massing options for the building, ultimately landing on the “Vertical” massing design. In the preferred design scheme, the building mass is broken down through vertical recesses. As part of this design, balconies will be used to provide added horizontal details to the primarily vertical approach with units facing the street on three sides. Two upper-level terraces in opposite corners of the building would also help to further break down massing.  

“Our preferred scheme again is what I would call most traditional, responding to the character of buildings built in Ballard with the vertical elements emphasizing the modulation of residential units and the main lobby on 52nd street together with services and emphasizing the corner,” Radim Blazej, CEO and founder of Caron Architecture, said. 

Other design options explored by the design team included a “Rectangular” massing scheme and an “Angled” scheme. According to the design proposal, the “Rectangular” option offers a simplified approach with a rectilinear form and a minimal amount of articulation. In this design scheme, units would be situated to the east and west of the building and an upper level terrace would face towards the west.  

The “Angled” approach, on the other hand, would include an angular facade with units facing all sides of the building. This option also includes a triangular rooftop terrace set back into the building to further break down massing while providing views of the Puget Sound. 

Moving along with the preferred massing scheme, the project also aims to provide a strong pedestrian presence with an easily accessible entryway. A widened plaza and landscaping also are intended to make the outside of the building more inviting. 

Further, layered landscaping buffers will be used to provide a more seamless transition between public and private tenant space. Setbacks along 17th Avenue NW are also designed to be larger to add to the busier character of the street, while residential units are adjusted vertically to maintain a sense of security and avoid mixing public and private space.  

“We will provide plenty of landscaping to buffer the building from the neighbors on the east and also provide transitional landscaping and terrace plantings along the sidewalks of all four sides,” Blazej said. 

Overall, the board recommended the design team move along in the entitlement process with the “Vertical” design approach. However, in doing so, the board also offered guidance to the project team in how they can strengthen the design. 

The board noted several concerns regarding the height of the terraces along 17th Avenue, noting the project team should consider a more refined approach to the area. Further, the board suggested the team reconsider massing at the southwest corner of the building, noting the current design seems compressed. The board also suggested that the street level corner of 17th Avenue be more engaging to balance out other busier portions of the building. 

When moving into further stages of the design review process, the board also suggested having clear ideas about colors and materials of the building.