By Meghan Hall
A new housing project proposed by two big Puget Sound names has received preliminary design approval for a new modern apartment building in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. Once known for its industrial feel and history of timber production, the new development will become one of many adding to the modernization of the district.
The project has been proposed by J. Selig Real Estate and is to be designed by Mithun. Located at 1145 NW Market St., the apartment complex is slated to rise seven stories and include around 122 workforce housing units. Units will be either one- or two-bedrooms. About 2,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial, as well as 70 below-grade parking stalls, are also proposed.
“Our vision is to create a contemporary and highly attractive project that is inspired
by modern Nordic design, drawing on Ballard’s Scandinavian roots to create a beautiful new multi- family home in the heart of the urban village of Ballard,” design documents state.
The Northwest Market corridor is largely characterized by commercial and industrial zoning and development, while residential development is situated not far west. Older, single-use commercial structures embody the original character of the neighborhood, while single-family development is clad with gabled roofs, brick and lap siding and secondary architectural detail. Review documents released by the City of Seattle indicate that much of the new development in the neighborhood include midrise buildings whose main design aesthetic incorporates contemporary rectilinear forms with defined bases—much like Selig’s and Mithun’s latest endeavor.
The overall design of the project aimed to respond to Ballard’s lumber-based roots with what the design team has categorized as “unique massing” and “bold design moves.”
The preferred massing scheme presented—called “Carve”—would include six residential levels over a single-story podium. The massing would work to create two distinct cantilevered entries, catering to a more human scale on the lower levels. Two- and three-story massing volumes will relate to lower density neighbors and the east façade will be stepped back to account for the existing Koi apartment complex. North and south façade articulation, as well as articulation on the west side, will provide additional visual interest while mitigating the perceived bulk and scale of the development.
The massing will also contribute to space for extra “work nooks” and small dens in the push and pulls of units, which will create a diversity of unit types and can cater to a more diverse tenant base.
Overall, the Board was appreciative of the design scheme and its evolution, and fully supported the development team’s preferred option. The Board noted the stack and carve architectural concept was successful in breaking down the massing and created a scale that was a good fit with current development. The Board did ask the design team to consider modifying the overhanging volume on the northwest corner, stating it could be too low, while also asking the design team to make the commercial space more prominent within the proposed massing.
Additionally, while materials have not yet been chosen, the Board asked the design team to consider a selection of high-quality finishes that nodded to Ballard’s industrial and Nordic heritage. The use of brick, particularly at the lower levels, as well as wood accents, were suggested. A different material—but equally as durable—should be used on the upper levels for contrast.
Overall, the Board and larger Seattle community praised the development team for the project’s thoughtful design and relation to the neighborhood context. While the building is more modern, both parties noted that the project would still embody the true character of Ballard. Given the amount of positive feedback, the outcome of the meeting was of little surprise: At the end of the Early Design Guidance meeting, the Board voted unanimously to move the project forward to Master Use Permit application, allowing the development to move forward.