By Jack Stubbs
The Boren and Lenora Project, a 426-unit development in the works in the bustling Denny Triangle neighborhood, was recently given the green light to proceed to the next stage of the city’s design review process at an Early Design Guidance meeting held this evening on Tuesday, February 20th. At the meeting, architect Weber Thompson presented preliminary project plans to the downtown review board on behalf of developer Holland Partner Group.
The 44-story development, located at 2019 Boren Ave., is being designed as the primary gateway element for the adjacent Cornish College of the Arts, who will occupy some of the space in the proposed development.
Along with the 426 market-rate residential units, the proposed development will also include a 7,600 square foot multi-use black-box theater with 200 seats and a gallery space for Cornish on the first floor. The project calls for 45,400 square feet of commercial office space across the second through fourth floors, which Cornish might also occupy for administrative, instructional and studio space. Additionally, the project also includes a 4,750 square foot ground-floor residential amenity space and 350 below-grade parking stalls.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, John Stout of Weber Thompson discussed one of the main goals of the project, which is is to create a mixed-use development that reflects each of its primary components (residential, commercial and college-related facilities). Stout also discussed the primary city design guidelines that the applicant hopes to incorporate into the project plans, including promoting pedestrian interaction with the development along the adjacent streetscape and creating an exterior facade design that complements the architectural character of the Cornish Campus. Additionally, Stout emphasized how the project plans accounted for the development’s proximity to Cornish’s existing Raisbeck performance hall—a landmark-designated structure built in 1915—and integrated various open space and landscaping elements to enhance the “green street” along Boren Ave. and Lenora.
The board’s clarifying questions were brief and focused on the applicant team’s design choices for the project. Board member Aron Argyle asked the applicant team to elaborate on its plans for the building’s massing and lobby entrances. Board member JP Emery asked the applicant to clarify its plans for street-level uses along Boren Ave., suggesting that landscaping and artwork elements could be integrated into the development. Finally, board member Grace Leong requested that the applicant provide further information about the relationship between the proposed development and the landmark Raisbeck performance hall.
There was one public comment expressed during the meeting by a neighborhood resident who lives one block from the development. He expressed how the project team had conducted extensive community outreach with the surrounding neighborhood and South Lake Union Community Council, also voicing his support for the proposed black-box theater. However, he also highlighted a prominent design issue with the project, a distinct lack of open space not currently met by the neighborhood. Additionally, he urged the project team to consider the recommendation of the South Lake Union Community Council to include affordable housing units in the development.
During its deliberation period, the board mainly discussed how the development would conform with the surrounding neighborhood context along Boren Ave. and specifically how it would relate to the adjacent Cornish College. Board member Grace emphasized how the building would need to successfully service both the surrounding community and students of Cornish College. Board member Bradley Calvert emphasized this point, querying whether the proposed street-level uses for the development would successfully activate the streetscape. Specifically, Calvert asked the applicant team to clarify the uses for the proposed residential lobby, gallery and black-box theater, also inquiring whether there was a possibility for the development to further encourage shared uses by both community members and students of Cornish College.
Additionally, the board recommended that the applicant team work on refining the design of the building’s exterior facades—and coordinate with SDOT regarding circulation and accessibility to the site—after it submits a Master Use Permit to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection for review.