By Meghan Hall
A Land Use Application for 2019 Boren Ave. in Downtown Seattle was approved to apply for a Master Use Permit at its latest design review board meeting at the end of November 2018. The project, presented by Vancouver, WA-based owner Holland Partner Group and Seattle-based design firm Weber Thompson, is located at the corner of Boren Ave. and Lenora St. and would serve as the primary gateway to the Cornish College of the Arts. The development team is also working closely with college officials to integrate the building into the arts campus.
The 44-story, 395,565 square-foot mixed-use development would include 393 residential units and 369 below-grade parking stalls, 71 of which would be reserved for commercial uses. The remaining 298 spaces would be for residential use only. The plans also call for 47,675 square feet of commercial office space on three floors and 7,150 square feet of ground level arts facilities. The arts space will be composed of a 180-seat performing arts center and an art gallery for the school. Indoor and outdoor residential amenities such as roof decks and pool are also included in the plans.
Adjacent to the site is Cornish’s Raisbeck Performance Hall, which was built in 1915. The project team intentionally set back the podium level from the property line, and the remaining tower will be built on toward the north of the site in an effort to minimize the impact the size of the development will have on the hall. Along Lenora St., the first floor will be recessed to provide weather protected terraced seating. Behind the seating area will be an art wall that will highlight art exhibits created by Cornish, while three-dimensional art will be placed on podiums along Lenora St.
Originally, the design team had proposed a number of vertical stripes to break up and shift the façade of the tower. However, at the previous design review meeting, Seattle’s Downtown Review Board was concerned that the staggered vertical stripes would date the building’s design. The exterior of the tower will now have vertically-oriented extrusions with an articulated window wall glazing system to create movement in the structure’s massing. The outer elements of the tower will be of a deeper tone to create contrast and what the team has defined as “stronger horizontals.”
The board was generally supportive of the development’s overall design and ultimately approved the departures requested by the design team. Weber Thompson and Holland Partner Group asked to increase the coverage of the area of the rooftop deck to more than 55 percent and increase the upper level setback near Raisbeck Hall in an effort to streamline the massing of the building and allow for more light in between the two structures. The design team also proposed a blank wall that exceeds the building’s 15 foot baseline to accommodate its planned art wall and the use of medium-sized parking spots in lieu of large stalls for non-residential parking.
The design team presented the building and the adjacent Cornish campus as a location where innovation and art meet, to which the board was receptive. Overall, the board only had a few concerns, regarding the feasibility of the art wall and how the auditorium would be used by Cornish College. There was some concern as to whether or not the board could dictate the pedestrian and vehicular flow while the content of the art wall was in transition and how much the board can prescribe such activity. They also had several clarifying questions about the depth of the setback and the entrances to the building. The board also asked the team to carry the design in the gasket from the residential portion of the building and provide a better solution for the building’s residential entrance.
At the end of the meeting, and based upon its recommendations, the board unanimously approved the project, allowing it to move forward in the planning process to a MUP application.