Seattle has undergone several waves of development over the course of its history, although many would argue that the city’s latest period of expansion might, in fact, be its greatest. Two eras of growth are expected to collide in a development planned for 1931 2nd Ave. in Belltown. The site, which is home to the Terminal Sales Annex, is reflective of Seattle’s growth during the Klondike Gold Rush and is set to become the focal point of a new, 42-story mixed use tower proposed by Ankrom Moisan Architects on behalf of developer Pacific Virginia. While the project, called 2nd and Virginia, was asked to return for further design review at the beginning of March, the Downtown Design Review Board was receptive to the project’s design, which sought to blend the annex’s history with a tower reflective of Seattle’s newest era of development.
In addition to Ankrom Moisan, well-known Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and Seattle-based landscape firm Berger Partnership are also working on the project. The development, once complete, is expected to total 487,100 square feet and include two levels of coworking space along with 6,700 square feet of retail. 10 levels of the project would be home to a 237-key hotel, while the remaining 27 levels would include 222 condominium units. Five levels of below-grade parking with 250 stalls are also part of the project plans.
The project site is currently occupied by three buildings: 1919 2nd Ave., a four-story building, 1923 2nd Ave., a one-story building, and the Terminal Sales Annex. Two surface parking lots on both sides of the annex are also part of the project site. The existing buildings, except for the annex, will be demolished to make way for the new development. The project site is topographically the highest in Seattle and is located in one of the hottest parts of downtown, just northeast of the Pike Place Market Historical District and adjacent to the Moore Theater on 2nd Ave.
The Terminal Sales Annex, constructed in 1916, is a designated landmark. The building is five stories in height and was designed as a reinforced infill building in the Collegiate Gothic Revival Style by Bebb & Gould. At the time of its construction, Bebb was a leading innovator in the use of architectural terracotta in the region. Ankrom Moisan and team sought to incorporate the original annex into the new building by creating a tower that is telescoping in form, with ground level setbacks and a matching materials palette to allow for easier transition between past and present, according to project documents. The massing and facades will reflect and reinforce the annex’s strong Gothic and art deco heritage using a variety of stepped massings. Lower volumes at street level will complement the annex and create a transition to the structure’s sleek upper levels, providing breathing room between the buildings.
The Board was generally supportive of the project’s massing, believing it offered an interesting concept and strategy of breaking down the height, bulk and scale of the building — something that, during the meeting, the community also expressed as a concern. However, the Board did ask for increased clarification and additional detail in several areas, including how the proposed massing would be carried to all facades. And, again echoing community feedback, the Board asked the design team to provide strategies for activating the streetscape and plaza in front of the development, and how the programming and design of adjacent spaces will support activated areas.
The Board did disagree with public comment on one point: that the design of the building should mimic the historic language of the Annex across the entire podium of the building. In its remarks, the Board stated that the new tower should be distinctive, but complementary in its design and instructed the project team to move forward in fleshing out its preferred massing scheme. While the Board was generally supportive of the proposed development, it did ask Ankrom Moisan and team to return for further review in the coming months, believing its requests for additional detail on the project warranted further review.