By Meghan Hall
The Denny Triangle, with its proximity to the Washington State Convention Center, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center and Capitol Hill, is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood that has experienced explosive growth. Included in that growth is plans for a 16-story hotel, which is expected to rise on the site of a current surface parking lot, one once used as a staging area for recent construction. The proposal, submitted by Third Place Design Cooperative on behalf of Nipo Downtown Hotel, Inc. and property owner Rajbir Dandhu, was well received by the Downtown Design Review Board and Seattle community Tuesday evening, in part due to the development’s modern and well-thought-out design. However, it will have to come back for a second review, since the Board requested additional details and studies on the development.
The brand of the 179-key hotel — located at 1121 Stewart Street — was not disclosed overtly in project documents, although renderings of the project indicate that Tru by Hilton will be the operator for the property. The brand caters, according to Hilton’s website, is meant to be more affordable, mid-sized hotels and cater to the “young-at-heart.” Tru Hotels often feature semi-private workspaces, game rooms and 24/7 markets. Hilton announced the launch of the brand in January of 2016, and has since opened numerous locations around the United States. Tru is Hilton’s 13th hotel brand.
Plans also show that 50 apartments, a ground floor restaurant and café are also part of the plans. The restaurant and café will face Stewart St. and wrap around the corner onto Minor Ave. Overall, Third Place Design and Nipo Downtown want to create a clean, sophisticated development that serves as a worthy entrance to Seattle’s downtown core through the Denny Triangle.
The massing of the building will sit on a translucent base, while the tower form will be expressed as a solid mass composed of perforated metal, according to design documents. A frame element will be used to create a datum line that wraps around the translucent base and forms a canopy at ground level; the frame element will also vertically frame circulation pathways. A fritted glass curtain wall system and organic design will soften the exterior of the building, and the development team hopes its pattern will break up the massing of the building and offer the best views from the site. A canopy at the ground level composed of a continuous wood soffit will add additional interest to the development’s façade.
“The playfulness, the verticality and accentuated the corner were the three elements that we tried to work out with the frit,” said project manager Poppy Handy from Third Place Design Cooperative. “It is a transparent, smoked gray glazing, and as it moves away from the street it ombres to white. So we are creating the ombre effect with the frit as well as with the curtain wall glazing.”
The development is located within walking distance of numerous employers, including Amazon, and is also near another Hilton Hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Seattle Downtown. Redfin Real Estate also has an office in the vicinity, and the main Pike/Pine commercial corridor is located just across Interstate 5. The Washington State Convention Center, among other attractions, are also easily accessible.
Overall, the Board liked the proposed design and appreciated the overall skin of the tower and chosen materials, in particular the turning of the wood soffit on either side of the building, the landscaping and the setbacks.
“Some of the things we were thinking about when we developed our concept was looking to nature for this organic element that we would want to introduce into the skin and really try to bring that into the building with that filling of wood,” said Nagele of the soffit.
The Board also noted that the design team responded well to previous Board progress and was pleased with how the design of the development evolved overall. However, the Board still voted to bring the project back for an additional design review. The Board asked the applicant to conduct a privacy study to ensure proper window placement. The Board also had several questions about the fritted glass curtain system used and felt that the current renderings did not adequately show how the product would be used on the exterior of the tower. As such, the Board asked for further study of how the fritting would be utilized. Once the development team conducts the appropriate studies clarifying the Board’s questions, the project will return for an additional design review.