Home AEC 44-Story Residential Tower Proposed for Downtown Seattle Moved Ahead by Design Review...

44-Story Residential Tower Proposed for Downtown Seattle Moved Ahead by Design Review Board

Seattle, Seattle Downtown Design Review Board, Griffin, Sheridan, Chainqui Development, MZA Architecture, Landmark Preservation Board

By Catherine Sweeney 

After three early design guidance meetings with the Seattle Downtown Design Review Board, a 44-story residential tower has been moved through to the recommendation stages. The project, proposed by Chainqui Development, would add residential, ground-level retail, and commercial office space to the site of the historic Griffin Building. 

The project site, which is being developed in partnership with MZA Architecture, is located at 2005 5th Avenue and proposes 464 residential units, 3,800 square feet of retail space and 18,250 square feet of commercial office space in the 609,906 square-foot building. The tower would sit above the Griffin building and adjacent to the historic Sheridan Building, which is also at the site. 

“After multiple iterations spanning nearly four years, we achieved preliminary design support from the Landmark Preservation Board in 2021 by placing the tower core just outside the north exterior wall of the Griffin building and chantelering the tower over the Griffin roof using an angled, tree-like structure. This increased the tower separation to 60 feet, the maximum we could achieve without impacting the Griffin interior volume,” Craig Davenport, president of MZA Architecture, said. 

The development team first met with the design review board in 2017. At that time, the board expressed approval to move forward with design plans that covered the historic buildings with an arcade column feature. However, the Landmark Preservation Board did not approve of this approach and directed the developer to seek other solutions that would separate the tower design from the Griffin Building, keep the existing interior volume and use of the Griffin and restore its facade. 

During the third and final early design guidance meeting, the development team was able to address the Landmark Preservation Boards requests while providing clarity to the design about surrounding its previous concerns about how to properly maximize the tower’s separation to the Griffin building, the new approach to the tower’s facade and other transitional elements from the podium to the tower. 

“We are continuing with the new formalism design approach found in many significant buildings seen throughout the Seattle area. This design language creates a new tower addition and the existing landmark buildings,” said Peter Sherrill, senior associate with MZA Architecture. 

In response to both the Landmark Preservation Board and the Design Review Board, the tower’s design now reflects a tree-like structure, with columns branching out from larger limbs at the podium level. This allows the tower to taper and spread out above the buildings below, maximizing the tower area and separation while creating space above and around the Griffin and Sheridan roof parapets. 

Additionally, vertical elements have been added which increases the tower modulation, overall elongating the structure. According to MZA Architecture, this is typical of the new formalism style and easily blends in with other nearby structures. 

“Larger trunks branching and expanding out as they move upward, much like the monorail structure directly adjacent to the site. This would inspire the structure of the tower design and aid us in tapering the base and lowering the number of columns that penetrate through the landmark buildings below. It would also then carry the verticality of the Griffin up into the sky and represent the historic landmark in the skyline,” Sherrill said. 

Previously, the board also stated that they would like to see more vertical expression through the roof of the building. To do this, the design team provided a larger setback at the roof with landscaped terraces. The new structure is intended to provide a crown-like top of the building and set it apart among Seattle’s skyline. 

The Board also had requested a more detailed design surrounding the transition from the podium level to the residential tower. In new designs, the development team addressed these concerns noting its intent to create unity across the building by refining podium-level columns to match the vertical aspects of the tower. 

“The new formalism expression now continues from the top all the way down to the streetscape. There is no longer a fourth language incorporated at the podium. The vertical expression is further emphasized by compressing the Y-shaped columns into a more proportional spacing,” Sherrill said. 

After seeing the new designs, the Board was supportive of the overall design. However, the board also suggested the team considers adjustments to the massing of the podium in order to provide more clarity on the distinction and separation of the podium space to the rest of the building. 

Moving ahead in the process, the design team will present to the Board once more for a future recommendation meeting.