Home AEC 7-Story Multifamily Building in Seattle’s Greenwood Neighborhood Receives Design Approval, will Transform...

7-Story Multifamily Building in Seattle’s Greenwood Neighborhood Receives Design Approval, will Transform Surface Parking Lot

8730 Greenwood, The Hemlock, Skidmore Janette, WH Greenwood II LLC, GGLO, Seattle, Greenwood
Courtesy of Skidmore Janette

By Meghan Hall

An underutilized property at the edge of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood will become home to a new apartment building in the coming years as plans for a 142-unit project take shape. In a second recommendation meeting that occurred on Monday, WH Greenwood II LLC and local architecture firm Skidmore Janette presented updated schemes for 8730 Greenwood Ave. N. The project, which will mimic the patterns and neighborhood context, is expected to bring needed housing into the area and expand the wider bounds of Greenwood’s retail core upon completion.

Of the 142 units, 100 will be studios, 37 will be one-bedrooms and five will be two-bedrooms. 22 parking stalls are planned, as is 2,674 square feet of ground floor commercial space. As a development, 8730 Greenwood Ave. N. will build upon the designs and plans of a six-story, mixed-use structure to the North known as the “The Hemlock.” WH Greenwood II and Skidmore Janette have pitched 8730 Greenwood as a “Phase II” to The Hemlock, which has been designed by GGLO and is already under construction.

“[The vacant parking lot] that is there now is eagerly awaiting a new building,” said Skidmore Janette Principal, Jay Janette, at Monday’s meeting.

Building on previous guidance from the Board, Skidmore Janette presented plans for a project with canted facades to the North and East, and a south facing courtyard that aligns with the Hemlock project. The massing on Greenwood will present a strong, street-level presence and simple upper-story façade expression. Paired windows and vertical circulation volumes will be accentuated by color and material changes.

On the ground floor, the lobby will be located to the North end, and commercial spaces will occupy the remainder of the street frontage. The Northwest corner of the building has been pulled away from the property line at the upper stories, increasing access to light and air, and the residential entry was modified to specifically differentiate it from the rest of the structure. At the street level, fractured brick bays frame the residential entrance, and  a slight change in the building’s façade and a modest setback add to its presence.

“We have kept the high transparency glazing, and we’ve collected windows to create a vertical orientation that mimics some of the patterns that you see in Phase I, but it does create a distinct building,” remarked Janette. “Our goal really from the start was to let Phase I be the star, the anchor, the main character for this site, [and] Phase II be a little more of a simple, quiet background building. And I think on its face we achieved that goal.”

The project team also presented a modified, and much lighter, materials palette. A neutral brick tone will complement metal siding on the upper stories, while also contrasting with the Hemlock project masonry color. The street level brick frames will be a similar, but lighter in color. Lighter siding, with dark vertical accents, will help to complement other materials on the upper levels.  An autumn gold fiber cement panel will also act as an accent.

“We’ve got a palette that is pretty restrained, sophisticated,” said Janette. “It’s got a neutrality about it, but it also has a warmth about it without being overbearing or gregarious.”

Overall, the Board was relatively receptive to the design modifications made since the project’s last review meeting. In its deliberations, the Board focused on more minor details and materials selection as opposed to major massing moves. The Board spoke most about the residential entry, and while it appreciated the moves the design team made to follow its guidance, the Board members felt that the moves may have gone too far. They ultimately felt that the entry was differentiated “too much” between the massing and material changes, and thus suggested keeping the materials palette consistent across the entry. It conceded that the massing changes, however, were relatively successful and could remain.

The Board also appreciated the brick frame for the commercial entries, stating the proportions and rhythm were reading strongly, and secondary architectural details such as signs and lights productively added to the feel of the building. Turning its attention to the Southwest corner of the building, the Board noted that opening up the corner was a solid technique to draw people to the northern edge of the project, but asked that moving ahead if the canopy could be extended to protect pedestrians.

Other small modifications, like the removal of some of the siding towards the Northwest corner, and the repositioning of bike racks, were also requested. However, these points were not enough to warrant another Design Review Meeting, and at the end of the night, the Board approved the project’s design.