By Meghan Hall
Aurora Avenue North, also well known to those from the region as State Route 99, is one of Seattle’s most heavily trafficked roads, running between the Uptown and South Lake Union neighborhoods. Recently, the Aurora Ave. N. corridor has seen an array of mid-rise residential projects proposed or completed and has been evolved from commercial to residential uses. A 15-story multifamily project proposed for 701 Valley Street is expected to contribute to that transformation. The development, proposed by Seattle-based Tarragon Development and Weinstein A+U, recently received approval from the West Design Review Board to proceed with its current design scheme at its second Early Design Guidance meeting at the beginning of May.
The 145,000 square foot building will contain 162 market-rate units, as well as a resident lobby, fitness area and dog run. A private outdoor terrace will be located on the second floor, with additional indoor and outdoor amenity spaces at the roof level, including a garden with operable glass walls and kitchen. Three levels of underground parking, totaling 56 vehicle spaces, are also included in the project. No commercial space is currently proposed.
The tower will be positioned at the northwest corner of the site, with the primary building frontage along Aurora Ave. The massing of the building will be organized into two slightly different expressions with shifting slabs to respond to the site’s topography and surrounding development. At the street level, common spaces are recessed and will be tied into the upper levels of the development with complementary materiality. A full-height gasket will mark the building’s primary entry, with the residential lobby — a continuous horizontal gasket — visible from Dexter Ave. The rooftop terrace will be oriented to the east to maximize views of Lake Union.
The project’s materials palette includes vision and spandrel glass, white and gray fiber cement panels, as well as concrete and a dark aluminum window wall system.
The Board recommended approval of the overall massing design of the project, but commented that a larger base or podium of more than one or two stories might improve the design along Aurora Ave. N. However, the Board also felt that the renderings’ portrayal of additional height and tall street trees helped to mitigate the proportions of the building. The Board then turned to discussing the project’s materiality. Overall, the Board members approved of the materials palette, but strongly recommended against using a pure white for the facades’ main exterior fiber cement panels.
After reviewing the neighborhood context and the improvements made from the first EDG meeting, the Board recommended approval of the project with two conditions: that, as discussed, the project applicants refrain from using a pure white on the exterior facades, and second, a mural will be included on the interior wall facing the windows along Aurora Ave. N. Tarragon Development and Weinstein A+U will return for a formal Design Review Meeting in the future with the updates in hand while wrapping up the remaining entitlements process.
Once completed, the 701 Valley project will join a recently constructed 100-unit, six-story apartment building directly to the east, as well as a new 286-unit, six-story apartment structure across Valley St. Across Aurora Ave. N. is another six-story complex, which was completed in 2012. The project site is within easy walking distance to many of South Lake Union’s office complexes, as well as more leisurely attractions such as the Museum of History and Industry and the Space Needle. Major employers such as Amazon and Facebook are also located within a few blocks.