By Meghan Hall
The trendy waterfront neighborhood of Ballard is set to welcome a new, 171-unit mixed-use development after Seattle’s Northwest Design Review Board backed the proposed project at a design review meeting in mid-January 2019. Ballard Yards, the seven-story, 189,727 square foot development would also bring 6,800 of retail space and 100 below-grade parking spaces to the center of the neighborhood’s bustling commercial district.
The project is located at 2417 NW Market St. and was presented by VIA Architecture Director Jim Bodoia on behalf of real estate investment and development firms Carmel Partners, Urban Evolution and Murase Associates. The current proposal would incorporate both the industrial and maritime aspects of the neighborhood into its design. The project site lies on the edges of two zones, a heavy industrial and warehouse area as well as an urban village, making the integration of both a pivotal feature to the project. The massing of the building presents a strongly articulated base, a retail courtyard and stepped floor plates at Market Street. VIA Architects and the design team chose masonry as the cladding for the two-story pedestrian-oriented frontage of Market Street. The facades of the building also include punched, full height lantern bay windows and detailing to highlight alignments and create shadow lines for visual interest. In the proposed design, each lantern is asymmetrically positioned to enhance building interest and frame views toward the building’s courtyard.
Currently, the site is developed with a two-story industrial and retail structure totaling approximately 23,000 square feet. The structure would be demolished in order to make room for the existing development. Once completed, the Ballard Yards complex would serve as a neighbor to the Nordic Museum and numerous eateries such as La Isla, The Matador and Ballard Coffee Works. The project site is also a short walk from the Ballard Farmers Market, which is hosted every Sunday.
Anticipating that the lots on both sides of the proposed building would eventually get developed, Bodoia described how the facade would capture a remnant of old Ballard to decorate the walls that lack texture. “Ballard has a rich history of painted signage on a lot of the older buildings and some of the newer buildings, and I think a supergraphic, artistic application on those parts of the building could be an interesting addition to the neighborhood,” he said.
In response to the neighborhood’s rapid growth, the development team has also proposed a courtyard as an open, urban space to combat the appearance of street canyons. VIA Architecture posed the courtyard as a needed and necessary rest stop along the popular Burke-Gilman Trail, filled with planters and seating. The courtyard would also provide a contrast to the development across the street to enhance the urban village feel of Market Street.
A secondary common area, although this one accessible only to the residents, would be on the roof of the building, which is planned to provide a number of community uses as well as a pet park and sweeping views of Salmon Bay.
The design team requested several departures for the development, including curb cuts to consolidate vehicle entry points, reducing overhead weather protection required for the courtyard and encroachment on the upper level setback to maintain consistent massing. The review board granted the departures and did not see any concerns with the requests made by the design team.
However, the board spend an inordinate amount of time on the facade of the structure, especially the dual language of the design that contrasted the front of the building on Market Street and the back of the development on 54th Street. While the two parts of the building were intentionally designed to provide this duality, one resembling the industrial legacy of the neighborhood while the other borrowing from the urban residential neighborhood that Ballard is becoming, the board found the proposal inconsistent and lacking color and design continuity.
Other notable issues identified by the board included small kitchen windows that were on the front of the building and the access route to the handicap ramp in the courtyard. The small windows were too distinct from the rest of the design aesthetic, and the board asked Bodoia to conduct a study to evaluate an alternate approach. The board also asked the design team to provide a broader access for the handicap ramp to enable easier passage through the courtyard.
In the end, the board approved the project, which will now advance further in its development process.