Home AEC 25-Story Hotel Proposed for Downtown Seattle Breezes Through Early Design Review

25-Story Hotel Proposed for Downtown Seattle Breezes Through Early Design Review

Seattle, Howe Family Holdings, Aedas, Walker Macy, South Lake Union, Thompson Hotel, Amazon, Spheres, El Rio Hotel, Thompson Hotel
Image Courtesy of Aedas Architecture

By Meghan Hall

The project team for tommie — an urban lifestyle hotel and furnished apartment building located in the heart of Seattle — received an early victory at the end of December when the Downtown Design Review Board pushed the project forward to a Master Use Application after its first Early Design Guidance Meeting. The 221-key hotel is proposed by Seattle-based Howe Family Holdings, Aedas and Walker Macy and is positioned as a micro lifestyle hotel in the Denny Triangle neighborhood of the city’s bustling South Lake Union submarket.

The development — located at 1932 9th Ave. — will also include 90 furnished residential units, averaging 350 square feet on the upper floors of the tower. The hotel will occupy the lower floors, with the rooms coming in at around 200 square feet in size. The ground level of the project will include the lobby for both the hotel and residential, as well as a retail and café space. Hotel amenities will be housed on level two, while residential amenity space and an outdoor terrace will occupy the uppermost floor of the tower. No vehicle parking is required for the site.

tommie is modeled after the nearby Thompson Hotel just up the street. The two facilities will share ownership and operations once the project is complete.

The 25-story hotel will rise on a 7,200 square foot parcel, currently occupied by a single one-story commercial building. The corner lot just adjacent to the site is the El Rio/Julie Apartments, an established landmark built in 1920. Much of the surrounding neighborhood, while currently a mix of commercial structures and parking lots, is rapidly transitioning to tall, dense mixed-use structures, according to City documents. Amazon’s headquarters and Spheres buildings are only a few blocks away.

Image Courtesy of Aedas Architecture

The challenge for the development team was to create a tower that responded to the small, urban infill site — which measures just 60 feet wide — and the surrounding neighborhood. Aedas designed the massing of the building to be rectilinear in form, with the hotel entry acting as the gasket between the historic El Rio Hotel and tommie. The upper level residential levels of the tower will be differentiated from the hotel by operable windows, which will give the façade sub texture. The streetscape will have clear glazing to activate the corner of Ninth and Virginia Streets, and a large staircase leading down to the proposed restaurant, conference and additional amenity space on Level A will connect the three public levels of the building.

The board was appreciative of the efforts presented by the development team, acknowledging the challenge of coming up with an effective design for the highly-constrained urban-infill site and supported the simple composition of the project’s design. The board liked the two-story corner element as an engaging design concept, as well as the building’s gasket expression, although they did ask the team to carefully study its composition and material expression. The board also warned the design team to carefully consider its choice of cladding for the tower, given its proximity to the El Rio Hotel. Only one departure was requested — which would omit a portion of overhead weather protection — something the board initially supported.

In its planning documents, Aedas explained that tommie’s purpose is “to create efficient accommodation and residences with shared amenity spaces that enable the best balance of social connectivity and technology, serving guests, new arrivals, students, interns and a variety of others.”

With support from the review board and a green light to submit a Master Use Permit application, it appears tommie is well on its way to doing just that.