Home AEC 340,000 SQFT Life Science Proposal Moves Forward in Seattle Design Review Process

340,000 SQFT Life Science Proposal Moves Forward in Seattle Design Review Process

Early Design Guidance, Seattle, Pacific Medical Buildings, Perkins & Will, SiteWorkshop, Metropolitan Park, Seattle City Light Denny Substation, REI Courtyard, Swale on Yale

By Kate Snyder

A project that has gone through different owners, different proposed uses and several rounds of design changes is moving forward to the next phase of Seattle’s design review process. During an Early Design Guidance meeting for a proposed 15-story, 340,000 square foot office building with laboratory and retail spaces, board members voted to move the project on to the recommendation phase. The meeting on Wednesday was the project’s third EDG meeting, and board members were pleased to see improvements in almost every aspect of the design compared to earlier meetings.

“You almost see it as the first thing as you’re driving in the city from I-5 and it has a huge potential to enhance the skyline of Seattle,” Gargi Kadoo, board member, said about the proposed design, calling the project as a whole “beautiful.”

The project is located at 1305 Stewart Street and being developed by Pacific Medical Buildings, according to project plans. The architect is Perkins & Will and the landscape architect is SiteWorkshop. The current design is the latest iteration of a proposal that began in December 2019 with a completely different owner and has gone through different proposed uses – from exclusively office space to research space – throughout the past three years.

During its first EDG meeting, the project was designed to accommodate general office use, according to project plans, and later at its second EDG meeting earlier this year was presented for a life science use. It has now been adapted for life science with key elements of design guidance from the project’s first two meetings. Throughout all the changes, the general size of the project has remained the same. Part of the design also includes parking for 300 vehicles and the demolition of existing buildings.

Design changes from previous meetings include the elimination of blank walls, a setback along Stewart to accommodate a plaza and colonnade, creating a more inviting pedestrian environment along E Denny Way, a “robust and engaging landscape” at the west and

south edges of the site and the southwest corner, clear sight lines and the elimination of the blind corner on the southeast side, according to the proposal.

Erik Mott, principal at Perkins & Will, also highlighted the several local structures that helped inform some of the design, such as the Metropolitan Park, Seattle City Light Denny Substation, REI Courtyard, Swale on Yale and 1370 Stewart Street.

“In synthesizing the different inputs and the guidance, we’ve remained aware of our first principles which were based on observations of notable buildings in the neighborhood that provided good examples of sculptural building responses that were integrated with an inviting public realm,” Mott said. “In many cases these forms were informed by inflections or conditions in the city grid. That was a really important cue for us on this site to respond to, that integration of the public realm.”

During the latest meeting, board members were generally pleased with the presentation though some had a few concerns related to the level of detail that was provided, pedestrian safety and details related to the ground level design. But many of the concerns from previous meetings were addressed, according to Tiffany Rattray, board member, who said the project’s leadership “resolved quite a few issues” from the last time it was presented.

Board members also discussed the fact that there was only one real design proposal for the massing that was presented, rather than three as per the usual standard. They also noted, however, that the presented design was shown in a way that left room for changes and attempted to answer all of the board’s previous concerns.

“In general, I’m supportive of the project,” said Allan Farkas, board member. “I do note that once again, I think this is the third EDG where there really haven’t been three proposals the way we typically see them, although there is a lot of exploration on this.”