Home AEC 221-Unit Multifamily Building Planned for Seattle’s University District Moves Forward in Design...

221-Unit Multifamily Building Planned for Seattle’s University District Moves Forward in Design Review Process

Seattle, University District, Core Spaces, GGLO

By Catherine Sweeney 

A 221-unit residential building planned for Seattle’s University District is moving its way through the City’s design review process. On Monday, Core Spaces, which is developing the project, met with the Northeast Design Review Board for an Early Design Guidance meeting. The board ultimately approved the project, moving it along in the permitting process. 

The project is being designed by GGLO and would take shape along 1205 NE 50th Street. According to the project proposal, the building would reach 25 stories, total 260,000 square feet and include 1,500 Retail square feet of retail space. 

The site is currently developed with a vacant one-story retail building. The retail building would be demolished and the new residential building would be constructed along the SE corner of NE 50th street and 12th Avenue NE, with the entryway and ground floor programming on 12th Avenue and residential units located in the above tower. 

“The key drivers for this development relate to the fine grain urban context of new and existing multifamily buildings surrounding the site…giving a unique building identity, a clear cohesive massing that responds appropriately to the various site contexts and scales, responding to the very different streetwalk conditions along 50th and 12th and of course creating an effective modulated backdrop for the new open space on Brooklyn Avenue,” Jeff Foster, Principal at GGLO, said. 

During the meeting, the design team presented three concepts, ultimately landing on a preferred concept, which includes a stepped roof profile to the north and thin, vertically proportioned tower massing. Stepbacks at 50th and 12th also create more pedestrian space at the corner. 

The building’s massing also aims to relate to the surrounding neighborhood context and contribute to the overall architectural style of the U District through playful materials and livable terraces with open spaces at the tower setbacks, the design proposal states. The tower also provides a distinctive architectural presence along 50th and serves as a focal point of new development within the residential neighborhood. 

“We think of all the three schemes, this tower forms the most effective backdrop to the open space. As you can see, the building steps nicely here at the 160-foot datum. It creates a successful mass here that relates to the open space form,” Foster said. 

Other schemes included the “Gasket-Code Compliant” scheme, which including extruded massign wrapped by outer elements. This design scheme also includes a recessed podium that projects out at ground floor to emphasize the lobby programming. 

A second unused design scheme, the “Corner Peel” featured a sculptural corner element at 50th and 12th that would serve as a prominent focal point for the building. 

Overall, the board showed unanimous support for the preferred design scheme and also noted the importance of the main corner being clear and usable at the human scale as well as the importance of the open space and the connection between the residential building and the alleyway.

However, in moving forward, the board also asked the design team to focus more on developing the open space element and the rooftop terrace. Specifically, the board suggests looking deeper into the outside stepping at the north corner. The building’s facade, in terms of colors and materials, also needs to be developed moving forward, the board stated.