Home AEC 15-Story Residential Tower Planned for Seattle’s University District Moved Forward by Design...

15-Story Residential Tower Planned for Seattle’s University District Moved Forward by Design Review Board

University District, Seattle, Clark/Barnes, Northeast Design Review Board, 911 NE 50th LLC

By Catherine Sweeney 

A project that is intending to bring up to 180 residential units to Seattle’s University District is moving forward in the design review process. The project, which comes from an entity linked to 911 NE 50th LLC with designs from Clark/Barnes, was brought before Seattle’s Northeast Design Review Board on Monday evening and ultimately given the green light to proceed to a recommendation hearing. 

Located at 911 NE 50th St., the project would be constructed on a nearly 0.5-acre site at the corner of NE 50th street and Roosevelt Way NE. The project would total 15 stories and offer up to 128,000 square feet of space. 

According to the design proposal, the aim of the project is to provide a gateway to the University District that adds to the pedestrian experience while also contributing to the growing number of high-rise residential buildings in the area.  

“We held our public outreach in November of 2022. When asked what was the most important about the design of the property, the top three items were related to neighborhood character, environmentally friendly features and interesting and unique design,” said Lauren Garkel, a partner at Clark/Barnes, during the meeting. “…We listened to the public and have addressed the concerns through the analysis and developed three distinctly different options to explore these impacts.”

Of the three design options proposed for the site, the first is Alternative A, which would feature grid-like massing. Overall, this choice would include the construction of a 127,425 square foot building with 180 units. This option offers a grounded tower that relates to the human scale while also bringing a structural grid-like massing all the way up through the terminus of the tower, which provides large floor to ceiling windows. 

Alternative B, which is called “Shear” would feature a 127,148 square foot building also with 180 units. This version of the project would feature a transparent ground floor for a more effortless transition from the ground to the roof of the building.

The third and final option is called “Interlock,” due to its interlocking massing. This version, which is also the scheme preferred by the design team, would be slightly larger at 128,421 square feet and include 179 residential units. According to the design proposal, the “Interlock” scheme would create the most prominent entry point within the University District and also features a large setback for added open space amenities.

“The building is set back to create neighborhood open space nodes at the northwest and northeast corner of the site. The ground floor off Roosevelt is set back 10 feet with retail uses at the placemaking corner and primary residential entry midsite,” Garkel said. 

Overall, the design review board showed approval for Alternative C, but also noted that it preferred the rooftop design for Alternative A. 

However, board members also asked for more clarity on the design of the primary entries of the building and noted a preference toward active retail space along Roosevelt. The board also asked for more specific information on the square footage of the building, including at the rooftop level to have more clarity on how it lines up with the remainder of the building.