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Aging Gas Station in Seattle’s University District Slated to Become 27-Story High Rise

Onelin Capital Corporation, HEWITT, Seattle, University District
Courtesy of HEWITT

By Meghan Hall

The development frenzy in Seattle’s University District continues, and another high-rise tower could soon be added to the mix. At a recent design recommendation meeting, nearly-finalized plans for 1013 NE 45th Street were presented by Onelin Capital Corporation and architecture firm Hewitt. The project is slated to rise 27 stories, and once complete, will add to a slew of other projects in the neighborhood.

Project documents indicate that the development will include 365 total units, most of which will be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedrooms. 10 of the units will be about 900 square feet and include three and four-bedrooms. About 9,500 square feet of office and shared workspace is planned, as is 1,687 square feet of commercial space, plus neighborhood open space. 

The overall design of the tower was driven by a number of different factors, including contrasting solid and voids, a diverse residential program to add to facade variety, integrated mechanics, and most importantly, a sense of “carved social greenways.” 

“The design concept was inspired by [the] indelible qualities of the neighborhood we described at our last meeting as: ‘rational and romantic.’ Meaning, the neighborhood’s juxtaposed “rational” elements such as a long narrow street grid with a more organically arranged or ‘romantic’ university campus and natural features,” design documents explain. “The design and development team wanted these aspects of the neighborhood to be considered beyond massing and site strategies and into the design of the facade and the ‘social greenways.’”

The project team notes that much of the design was driven by the fact that city dwellers, especially younger age cohorts, live close together but often feel lonelier. In its analysis, Onelin and HEWITT noted that a national study showed 75 percent of people in younger generations reported experiencing a lack of meaningful social interactions.

“High-rises often feel hermetically sealed until a resident reaches her deck or the rooftop amenity space, which takes a concerted effort to visit. The concept of “social greenways” developed as an idea of a series of outdoor, linear spaces that divides the tower into smaller blocks, like stacking mid-rise structures on top of one another with outdoor common spaces between,” design documents state. “They provide common areas along everyday paths of travel, delivering a variety of gathering spaces, access to light and air, and opportunities for serendipitous connections.”

The two social greenways proposed are stepped and accessed from several different levels. The greenways also help to carve the tower’s massing, reducing the appearance of its bulk and scale. Residential “mews” are located at the south end of the site, and healthy setbacks help to define the massing of the project. A grid pattern, composed of a lighter-colored material and gray glass, was also added in order to create more visual interest on each facade. However, the tall, slender portions of the tower and its H-shaped footprint were maintained since its previous design review meeting. 

The board was thoroughly impressed with the presentation, noting in its evaluation that the materials provided outlining the design were extremely thorough. The board praised the massing refinements made since the project’s early design guidance meeting and continued to voice its support for the H-shaped building and its two separate masses. The board also “enthusiastically” supported the use of greenways to modulate the facade and cater to residents.

The review board also was pleased with the proposed material and landscaping schemes, as well as the project team’s designs for the ground plane.

Overall, the board was pleased with the modifications made to the design since the previous design review. At the end of the meeting, the board voted to move the project forward–no conditions needed. In the coming months Onelin and HEWITT will finalize their plans and secure approvals, and then they will move forward with construction.