By Meghan Hall
The University of Washington has an indelible impact on the nature and rate of development in neighborhoods just north of Seattle as its student population — and Seattle’s reputation as an emerging tech hub — continue to grow and evolve. High-rise, infill development is becoming increasingly common, and is a challenge that Seattle-based GGLO Design and property owner Core Spaces are looking to tackle with their development of 4515 and 4525 Brooklyn Ave. NE. at the heart of the city’s University District.
The project is expected to bring a 25-story, 162-unit apartment building and 40 small efficiency dwelling units, along with retail sales and service space to the neighborhood and is one of the first high rise structures to be proposed in the neighborhood under new zoning changes. At the development’s design recommendation meeting in April, GGLO and Core Spaces were given the green light to move forward with the project, provided the team refine the development’s fenestration and massing.
The project site is located mid-block on a green street corridor and spans two properties with a parking lot in between. 4515 Brooklyn Ave. NE. will be the home of student housing with about 2,614 square feet of ground floor retail, while 4525 will be developed into a public park.
“The site is located in the Heart of the University Commercial District, within a block of the future transit station,” states the development team in project documents. “Our goal is to bring both open space and additional density to the University District while further connecting the neighborhood and UW.”
The development team hopes the project will create a lively ground floor and that the connection to the adjacent pocket park will create a human-scaled corridor. The building’s massing includes a deep gasket that steps back at the third floor to create a base that anchors the building, while a lower level active terrace will overlook the street and alley. The gasket, states design documents, will break down the façade into a series of vertical and horizontal elements; recesses going up to the building will relate to cues and buildings of varying scales around the neighborhood.
GGLO and Core Spaces have also proposed that the masonry pier elements incorporated on the lower levels of the building extend mid-way up the building. GGLO and Core Spaces also extended the project’s window wall and silver metal panel and slab edge cover on the tower down into the middle of the development to blend the project’s differing material elements. Multi-story dark gray fins were added in order to maintain an organizing texture throughout the entire building.
In its deliberations, the Northeast Design Review Board noted that the tower would play an important role in the evolution of the look and feel of neighborhood given its status as one of the first high rise projects in the University District to work its way through the entitlements process. The Board expressed support for the development’s ground floor expression and configuration, as well as its overall tower composition. The Board was also generally supportive of the development team’s use of materials. It did, however, have a few concerns regarding the application of materials, specifically the proposed fins.
The Board recommended consistent use of the fins on all sides of the building, as opposed to various densities on different facades. The Board also recommended refining the volume of the building further by scaling back the piers to achieve a more fluid transition from the base to the body of the tower.
With these considerations in mind, the three Design Review Board members recommended the approval of the subject design, so long as GGLO and Core Spaces worked to address its concerns regarding the building’s volume and fin application.
Upon its completion, the development will add to Core Spaces’ projects in the area; in 2017, the developer completed Hub On Campus, Seattle, a 132,126 square foot, 111-unit student-oriented housing development located at 4733 University Ave. NE. The developer owns numerous other properties across the country near major colleges such as Michigan State, the University of Arizona and Colorado State University.