Home AEC Designs for 24-Story High Rise in Seattle’s U-District Approved

Designs for 24-Story High Rise in Seattle’s U-District Approved

BarrientosRYAN, Runberg Architecture Group, University District, Seattle, The M, Core Tower
Rendering Courtesy of Runberg Architecture Group

By Meghan Hall

Another high-rise is gearing up for construction in the northern part of Seattle’s University District, where several other large-scale projects, including Core Tower and The M are expected to rise. This latest project, proposed by BarrientosRYAN and Runberg Architecture Group, would transform a single-story commercial building into a 24-story high rise with about 227-units. The project was well-supported by the Northeast Design Review Board at its most recent Design Review Meeting, where the board recommended approval of the project’s design.

Located at 1200 NE 45th Ave., the tower would complement increasingly dense development along a block between NE 43rd Street and NE 47th Street. Current high-rise development includes the Deca Hotel, originally built in 1931, just adjacent to the project site, as well as the 25-story UW Tower on Brooklyn Ave. NE. The M, a luxury tower, will be delivered in the fall of 2020, while Core Tower is still several years away from delivery. Other mid-rise development in the area includes a Residence Inn by Marriott, WSECU and Bridges @ 11th. 

The project would include 22 SEDUs, 44 studios, 57 open one-bedrooms, 58 one-bedrooms and 56-two bedroom units. In addition to the more than 200 residential units, 3,287 square feet of ground floor commercial space is planned, as is 91 parking spaces. The commercial space will be either bank and retail, or café and retail, which will be situated on the east end of the property.

According to project documents, the development team’s preferred massing scheme sought to take advantage of the property, which is located at a gateway corner in the neighborhood and provides ample opportunity for open space and connection to the public realm. Open space outside of the building will include a stepped walk and garden, slab seating and metal planters. Precast white panels and dark bronze storefronts will complement wood panel soffits throughout the podium level.

The upper façade will maintain modulation with strong, defined lines, while the upper level penthouse features vies to the West and South and will tie into façade breaks. Secondary modulation will come in the form of balcony placement and design, while the terminus of the tower will be highlighted through the use of metal screens. The tower’s angled walls and vision glazing will help to produce a volumetrically and visually interesting tower. In addition to glazing, the same dark bronze metal panels used in the base of the tower will carry up the building, as will satin grey accent spandrels.

Overall, the board commended BarrientosRYAN and Runberg Architecture Group on the design development that had occurred since the project’s previous early design guidance meeting in August of 2018. The board noted that the tower form was elegant in its proportions and supported the design decision to use a repeating balcony expression up the gasket. The board also supported the base expression and the streetscape design, especially along 45th Ave. NE and the use of materials to connect the varying elements of the development. 

The board unanimously approved the project to move forward. In doing so, it also made several suggestions for refinement of the project’s design. The board recommended that the design team further sculpt the north end of the roof to achieve greater design continuity. At the ground plane, the board also recommended creating a broader and more open stairway connection along NE 45th Street, as well as the addition of occupiable space to compliment the stairs. The board also suggested using materials other than textured, precast concrete and brick across the entire podium level, but did not give direction as to what materials would best replace the concrete and brick. The integration of art, as well as small revisions to the canopies, would also help to create a more cohesive design, stated the board.

However, with design approval secured, the development team will work on these revisions while wrapping up the remaining entitlements process. Once complete, the development will add another punctuation mark to the U-District’s evolving skyline.