Home AEC 8-Story Mass Timber Project in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood Passes Design Review

8-Story Mass Timber Project in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood Passes Design Review

Juno Residential, Ennead Architects, Seattle, Capitol Hill
Courtesy of Ennead Architects

By Meghan Hall

A carefully curated multifamily project in Seattle’s growing Capitol Hill neighborhood is wrapping up the design review process after a final meeting at the end of February. Proposed by San Francisco-based Juno, an up-and-coming developer, the 98-unit project seeks to employ sustainable design and mass timber in its construction.

“Juno’s objective is to rethink how housing is developed to inspire residents and help neighborhoods flourish,” design documents state. “Residential unit and building design supports sustainability by using low-carbon materials, reducing construction waste and eliminating natural gas…Overall, the building and units are designed to inspire with design care and curation, without compromising comfort or quality, delivering modern livable spaces residents will be proud to call home.”

The project will be located at 1722 Bellevue Ave. and has been designed by New York-based Ennead Architects. In all, the development will include seven stories of studio, one- and two-bedroom units. The first floor will be utilized as a lobby for residents and retail in the form of a City Market grocery store.

The building’s design will be broken into a top-middle-base composition. The top floors will have larger openings to give a lightness to the facade, while the middle zone will have a more varied design, focused on different proportions and patterns. The bottom floors will reflect a “compositional heaviness.” While the project team did investigate the use of balconies as a secondary massing element, code does not permit combustible materials, such as mass timber balconies, to be used.

“The proposed mass timber structure will be a seminal example of a deep integration between the built environment and the long-lasting health of our planet, cities, and generations of future residents,” documents explain. “This building’s ground-level will also serve as future home to a City Market grocery store.”

The project will also feature a number of modern, but warm materials, including colored concrete, metal panel, cortens steel and corrugated steel. Glass and various greenscreens will also be utilized throughout the design. Materials will be broken into a “componentized system” which plans show is a pre-fabricated design using the above materials. Overall, the materials are heavily inspired by a more natural color palette to coordinate with the proposed mass timber structure.

“With a prominent commercial presence as priority at the ground level, dark bronze coating will be used for the aluminum storefront frame material to create large glass storefront spaces in either weathered steel or colored concrete depending on the facade orientation and related facade design,” documents state.

Overall, the review board appreciated the strides that the design scheme had made since its previous review, and the board recommended approval of the overall massing, architectural concept, materials palette and landscape concepts. The only major modification that the board did suggest, however, was setting the building back along the southwest portion of the site. The project’s proximity to a Victorian Home, noted the board, made the project feel much larger in scale. However, the board also expressed that such a setback would not necessarily solve for the “visual proximity” of the development to the single-family residence. 

The review board also made several other suggestions to the design team. First, it recommended the addition of more signage so that guests and residents could easily decipher between retail and residential entrances. The board also asked for further detail regarding a number of smaller items, including vent locations, lighting and security. However, these clarifications would not at all hinder the design, and so at the end of the meeting, the board recommended the project move forward. In the coming months, Juno and Ennead Architects will refine the project further as they pursue a Master Use Permit and other related entitlements for the site.