By Meghan Hall
A new apartment complex pitched by developer Hunters Capital and architecture firm Studio Meng Strazzara has cleared the final round of design review. In a recent meeting, the East Design Review Board voted to move 517 E Pike St., a 92-unit development, forward based on a number of design conditions meant to refine the character and architectural concept of the development.
In addition to the residential units, 7,500 square feet of retail and commercial space, as well as 750 square feet of office, are planned. City documents also indicate that 51 vehicle parking stalls, as well as bike parking, will be included in the project.
The project site is currently developed with a commercial building that was originally constructed in 1910. The building, as well as much of the Pike/Pine neighborhood, is characterized by a strong commercial presence with brick storefronts and structures with an industrial flare. The area is evolving quickly; City documents also note that the neighborhood is seeing more development, particularly larger, multifamily structures that combine both historic and modern architecture.
The site itself is surrounded by popular commercial businesses, including Menya Musashi, which serves Ramen, Tamari Bar, Linda’s Tavern and Meet Korean BBQ. Cal Anderson Park, Swedish Hospital and Virginia Mason Medical Center are also located nearby.
During the meeting, the project team presented changes made from a previous design review. The overall scheme of the building is meant to represent a “modern warehouse” aesthetic, where the massing of the building is divided into three legible massing volumes: the character structure, the mass above it, and the project’s southern volume. The facade of the site’s existing building will make up the character structure, and additional details will be added to restore the facade to its original state.
The upper levels will recede away from the character structure, adding distinction between old and new and allowing the pedestrian realm to be a predominant focal point.The use of brick at the first four stories, followed by cement paneling, will allow the upper levels to recede from view. The southern volume will feature grouped massing bands to create clean shadow boxes. The boxes will provide additional depth and articulation to the massing of the building.
“The resulting massing combines preservation and restoration of the character base structure to maintain pedestrian two-story volume relationship with distinct northern and southern massing volumes,” project documents state. “The northern massing transitions from the character base and includes balconies to provide access to outdoors and opportunity for social interaction.”
The residential entrance was further seback to provide for better transitions for accessibility and to correlate more closely with the character structure. A second entrance was not included in order to better preserve the public realm by maintaining commercial continuity on Pike St. via a mix of smaller commercial spaces.
A variety of materials will be used in the construction of the project, including light brick and cement panels, aluminium storefronts, dark tile, gray stucco, brass and bronze vinyl windows.
The Board appreciated the development of several different massing volumes, as well as the deep seback of the massing volume above the remaining character structure. The Board also liked the overall material palette and the further detailing it provided to the facade, including the extent of the glazing used. The Board did recommend, however, to adjust the proportions of brick and cement used in order to create more distinct massing volumes and more clarity of design concept moving ahead.
The Board also commended the use of balconies on the massing above the character structure, but did debate as to whether the size of the balconies constituted proper, usable space.The Board recommended studying the use of larger balconies to allow for outdoor seating while not overwhelming the character of the building.
Ultimately, the Board approved the project, allowing it to move forward. The project team will continue to make design adjustments while wrapping up entitlements, taking the Board’s feedback into account in the months to come.