Home AEC 25-Story Residential Tower Pitched for Seattle’s U-District Praised by Design Board

25-Story Residential Tower Pitched for Seattle’s U-District Praised by Design Board

ONELIN Capital Corporation, HEWITT, University District, Seattle
Courtesy of HEWITT

By Meghan Hall

A 25-story residential tower received praise from the Northeast Design Review Board this week, allowing the development to move easily through to the next phase of Seattle’s design review process. On Monday, ONELIN Capital Corporation and HEWITT Architecture presented their schemes for 1013 NE 45th Street, which will include 420 residential units. The Review Board commended the project team for its approach to the project, emphasizing that its strategy set a standard for development in the area.

“We were interested in understanding the past, present and future conditions, traits and characteristics of the University District landscape,” explained Julia Nagele, Principal and Director of Design at HEWITT. “From that we have a descriptor of contrasting urban experience that we define as ‘rational romantic.’”

The project’s units will be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedrooms. About three-ten bedroom units will also be included in the plans. 10,600 square feet of office and shared work space is laid out in the project details, as is 2,000 square feet of retail and on-site open space. The goal of the layout–and overall–design was to better accommodate students and young professionals who call the neighborhood home.

“This particular demographic requires to have units that are compact, efficient but still with flexibility and variety,” said Nagele.

HEWITT presented several schemes, but its preferred scheme received the most support from the Review Board. Called “Social Greenways Carved,” the massing features a tower with terraced social greenways connecting multiple floors. Residential “mews” are located at the south end of the site, and healthy setbacks help to define the massing of the project.

“In this alternative, we liked the idea of connecting more floors–so we connect three floors on each mid-rise and high-rise greenway,” said Nagele. “We like the way it further relates to not only the existing context but the topography as it slopes downward. And we like this idea of this…more organically thought of outdoor space for that greenway to relate to that skyline composition and the traits of the University District.”

Modulation will also create datums consistent with lower-scale structures surrounding the property. The project team hopes that other secondary elements, like bay balconies, sills and operable windows will break down the scale of the tower in future design iterations. At the top of the building, the tower terminates in a clean, modern manner.

Overall, the Board was generally impressed with the design schemes presented and the project team’s approach to the development.

“We’ve reviewed a number of these towers,” said Dan Rusler, who noted he has been on Board for almost every tower proposed in the University District thus far. “I personally have been waiting for a design and development team to approach the district, how these folks are approaching it, understanding the history of the place, what makes the place special, [and] understanding the underlying order of the district…”

The rest of the Board concurred that the extent of the project team’s analysis was fruitful. The Board also noted that given its location at the edge of a commercial district–which has been mostly devoid of residential development–it was eager to see how future iterations of the plan would evolve. The Board also noted that it appreciated the rational structure of the building combined with green space, as well as the simplicity of the tower and overall massing form.

The Board did debate about a few minor details, such as whether or not a second egress from the building was truly needed, and how the weather protection would be most successful in adding to the design. The Board stated that it would support a departure allowing it to remove overhead weather protection from one edge of the building, and emphasized that the open space along the ground floor plaza should be developed with landscaping and appropriate activation.

The Board then voted unanimously to move the project out of the early design guidance phase. With the Board’s suggestions in hand, ONELIN Capital Corporation and HEWITT will return to present updated plans at a design review meeting in the coming months.