More office space will soon be making its way to Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood, following a recommendation hearing with the West Design Review Board. During the meeting, the board recommended the approval of a proposed 191,600 square foot office building, ultimately moving it forward to a master use permit.
Located at 550 Mercer St., the project is proposed by Schnitzer West with designs from CollinsWoerman, and the landscape architect on the project is Site Workshop. According to the design proposal, the project would include an eight-story building with retail as well as 179 vehicles. The building is part of a larger two-building office project by Schnitzer West that seeks to bring 430,000 square feet of office space to the area.
“Interval 2, or 550 Mercer, is an eight-story office building that sits adjacent to the recently approved Interval 1 project. Together they seek to create a placemaking development that delivers distinctive exterior expressions while strengthening the relationship to one another,” said Alex Clark, lead designer at CollinsWoerman.
The design team had previously met with the review board during an Early Design Guidance meeting in July 2022, at which point the design review board approved a massing scheme that included publicly accessible ground level outdoor space on the southern end of the site and a larger corner retail space.
Since then, the design team has worked on various project enhancements, some of which include updates to the building’s massing, facade articulation and the project’s overall materiality.
In the revised design scheme, the massing of the building is further broken down at the northwest corner for a stronger pedestrian scale at the street level. Additionally, a ground level setback is proposed to help establish more usable outdoor space, project plans show.
Since the EDG meeting, CollinsWoerman also enhanced the building’s facade with added texture, depth and shadow. To do this, the design utilizes a number of materials, including horizontally and vertically laid brick, vision and spandrel glass and metal panels.
“The design team chose the facade iteration promoting the most depth, shadow, and texture to emphasize a more human scale while maintaining a unique gesture to represent Uptown as a gateway. To announce this site as a gateway, and translate the Uptown Arts & Culture district into architecture, it became important to treat this facade expression as an artistic element,” the project proposal states.
At the ground level, the design also aims to showcase a diverse mix of retail by creating two entrances, one along Roy and one located within a setback on Taylor. The added setback also allows for retail spill out with the nearby cafe seating and retail entryways.
Overall, the board was supportive of the upgraded designs and voted to unanimously move the project forward. However, in moving the project on, the board also offered several suggestions and recommendations for the design team to consider.
The board appreciated the included plans for a bike facility and noted their approval for its location. The board also supported plans for the setback and added open spaces it created. However, suggestions were also made to further study how it would meet up with the alleyway. Further, the board approved of the materiality and also supported the decision to revise the corner massing and setback.