Home AEC Design of Proposed 235-Unit Project in Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood Evolves to Embody...

Design of Proposed 235-Unit Project in Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood Evolves to Embody True Residential Feel

Greenbank Holdings, Ballard, Seattle, Skidmore Janette, 907 NW Market Street
Courtesy of Skidmore Janette

By Meghan Hall

A proposed development at the crux of Seattle’s urban core and densifying residential neighborhoods returned for a second Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting Monday night after several months of careful design work. Greenbank Holdings LLC and architecture firm Skidmore Janette presented new designs for 907 NW Market Street, designs which they believe embody more of the residential feel the Review Board and neighborhood require moving forward.

“Essentially, we’re east of the urban core…we are in a transitioning section of the neighborhood,” explained Principal Jay Janette at the project’s initial EDG meeting. “We have a lot of tools in our kit in order to shape and sculpt this project to make it one that is a contributing project, one that is sensitive to the transitions and we’re hopeful that it’s timeless.”

The project will total about 235 units and while located in a transition zone, Skidmore Janette and Greenbank Holdings have taken the Board’s feedback in an effort to turn the project into one that feels more residential and mindful of the immediate context, particularly a number of single-family homes located within the immediate vicinity.

A terraced massing along the street facades has been employed to mirror adjacent buildings and other proposals within the neighborhood. The massing will relate specifically to “two-story” buildings of scale. Along 9th street, the two-story base will be continuous, while on Market Street the façade design will be more intermittent. The goal of this design decision is to mimic a senior housing building adjacent to the property and mitigate the impacts of a longer façade. Bay modulation will be reflected on the upper levels to produce a more cohesive design.

Decks at level one will engage with the pedestrian realm, and a roof deck will also be included. In order to minimize impact on low-rise residential development, the roof deck will be shifted to the north.

The project team has also maintained its corner lobby and entrance onto Market Street, due to its visual connections to the corner and expanding Ballard neighborhood. Despite suggestions at the last EDG to move the lobby entrance to the center of the building, the project team felt the corner placement was the most appropriate layout. A secondary entrance will be located at the west end of the building.

“We have come to the conclusion that this corner entry option is really the most successful and it meets the intent of the design guidelines of celebrating the corner site and allowing porous, highly transparent, visible…element to activate that corner,” said Janette. “We feel that it is a great anchor point for the project.”

Additionally, courtyards will help to “dissolve” the appearance of a large façade and mitigate the building’s size. The width of the courtyards has been increased since the previous design review to their maximum in an effort to bring more light and air into the project.

“We have these courtyards off the south that allow light and air to access the corridors, which is something pretty unique for a building of this scale,” stated Janette. “You don’t often get to see light penetrate the middle of the plan like we’re showing here. So, I think that is a really unique characteristic that we’re very motivated to preserve and to continue to develop.”

Since the previous meeting, the material palette has also been simplified to reflect a “two-tone” concept. The materiality of the podium has been modified to read as more residential—a large contrast to the more commercial, transparent and pilaster-based façade proposed at the first EDG. The upper level materials have also been revised to become more cohesive with the podium and the rest of the building.

Overall, the Board was pleased with the direction that the project had taken, stating that the evolution of the proposed massing showed a thoughtful response to the Board’s previous guidance. The Board also appreciated the articulation of the project in its response to a number of street trees, as well as the presence of balconies and patios. The Board requested—if possible—to make those outdoor elements as large as possible in an effort to create an active pedestrian realm. The current setbacks provide good relief from the street, the Board noted, and the general scale of the building is more appropriate to the tricky zone transition that was discussion of much of the first EDG meeting. While the Board did express some concern about how much light and air could penetrate the interior courtyards, they still supported the scheme and stated it has potential moving forward.

At the end of the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to move the project forward to a formal recommendation meeting. The project team will be able to pursue a Master Use Permit application in the coming months as it works on designs for what could be its final formal design review with the City.