Urban Union is a 278,000-square-foot 12-story Class A office building located in Seattle’s South Lake Union that was designed by CollinsWoerman, developed by Schnitzer West and constructed by Sellen Construction, all Seattle-based companies. The project broke ground in January 2015, however, only weeks ago did Amazon decide to fully occupy the tower located at 501 Fairview Avenue North in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
Throughout the process of designing the office tower, the team kept in mind who would be leasing the space and made accommodations accordingly, says project architect Natasha Epstein and marketing coordinator Sean Fairchild from CollinsWoerman. “Amazon didn’t sign the lease until we were almost done with construction,” said Epstein. “We kind of knew who Schnitzer was chasing, there were a few that they were keeping tabs on.”
Amazon didn’t sign the lease until we were almost done with construction
The office building sits on the corner of Fairview Avenue North and Republican Street. It is on this corner where a blue glass cube frames the main entrance, created by British artist Kate Maestri, and opens into a fully public-activated two-story lobby. On this ground floor there is open seating and 1,500 square feet of retail space where a coffee shop may be located. Following the decline on Republican Street, stairs lead down to another public area where there will be a 4,500-square-foot restaurant. Doors from this space open out onto a pavilion for outdoor dining. One of the main features in the lobby is a reclaimed cedar art piece that reaches up to the two-story ceiling.
“The wall was fabricated in a warehouse, before it was disassembled and brought on site to be installed,” said Epstein. “It is really the focal point of the lobby, and part of our design for the exterior was to be sure it could be seen from the street.”
CollinsWoerman and Schnitzer West also collaborated with San Francisco-based architecture firm BAMO Inc. and Seattle-based landscape architects Weisman Design Group to create the lobby space. On the top floor there a solarium, which was initially designed to be a conference room, is flanked by two rooftop decks that offer magnificent views of Lake Union to the north, the Space Needle to the west and downtown to the southwest. Amazon is designing the 11 floors of office space and conference room, which are still under construction.
Design on the project began in 2013, and after breaking ground it took a little over a year to build. “We designed this building from the inside out, so we considered how the tenants were going to use it, what to do with the space to make it the most efficient, how the lobby needed to be laid out, where people would come in from the street and how to activate that,” said Natasha Epstein, the project architect with CollinsWoerman.
CollinsWoerman has had a presence in South Lake Union since Vulcan developed the neighborhood in 1997. Other recent projects it has completed in the area include 2200 Westlake, Seattle BioMed, 400 Dexter and Group Health Headquarters.