By Jack Stubbs
“The board was in support of the applicant’s concept, but we’d like to see the concept further explored and identified in the building design; to be less reactionary to elements on the project site…and to [be] more focused on how the building’s form and character reinforces the project,” said Christine Harrington, landscape architect and at firm GGLO and member of the West Design Review Board.
A project in Lower Queen Anne will not yet proceed to the next stage of the Design Review process. The design concept for a 52-unit mixed-use project was presented at the preliminary EDG on Wednesday, October 18th. The board asked the applicant team—developer Third and Harrison LLC, architect d/Arch LLC, landscape architect Glenn Takagi and surveyor Allied Land Surveying, Inc.— to return for a second Early Design Guidance meeting, citing concerns with the building’s massing and architectural concept, among other design-related issues.
The proposal is for a development—located at 431 3rd Avenue West—comprised of 52 market-rate one-bedroom units, as well as 1,864 square feet of commercial space planned to be developed as a dental office. The mixed-use development comprises 34,200 square feet, and includes 6 stories with one basement-level story and an additional 10 parking spaces. The neighborhood context is primarily comprised of mid- to large-scale apartments and condominiums and various office buildings, according to the project plans. The proposal involves the demolition an existing two-story office building that currently houses Westward Fishing Co. to make room for the new mixed-use development.
The overarching goal of the project, according to the presented plans, is to provide much needed housing relief in the growing urban environment, with ground-floor commercial space to serve the community’s needs. Some of the primary Uptown Neighborhood Design Guidelines that the project hopes to prioritize include its streetscape compatibility, the transition between the development and the street, the building’s height, bulk and scale, and the integration of landscaping elements to emphasize its compatibility with surrounding buildings.
When the board asked clarifying questions about the project plans, they called attention to the building’s overall massing and the integration of the commercial space with the adjacent street. Additionally, the board asked about the awnings and balconies on the main facade along the street, as well as the building’s relation to the buildings on the south side. Board member Harrington concluded by asking about the applicant’s overall vision for the project’s architectural character, specifically the way in which it would conform to the surrounding neighborhood context.
There was no public comment during the meeting.
During the board’s subsequent deliberation period, the main concerns they addressed were the development’s massing—the way that its lower levels would influence street-level interaction with pedestrians—the adjacency of the project to surrounding buildings, the treatment of a blank wall space to the south, and the way that the entries to the building would encourage engagement with the surrounding public neighborhood. With regards to the project’s massing, Harrison noted that, “There are limited elements that you can do with a small site, but this is not as much variety of the massing as we typically ask for.” However, the board also highlighted their approval of the project’s roof design and their open space concept.
The board ultimately decided that the applicant would need to return for a second EDG meeting to present updated project plans. Specific design elements highlighted by the board for the applicant to address included the building’s overall architectural character, a better integration of the building’s entrances with the streetscape and the need to explore further landscaping opportunities for the project’s exterior.