By Meghan Hall
The Denny Triangle is one of Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods post-recession, with its central location and close proximity to South Lake Union, Capitol Hill and Belltown. Amazon’s main campus is located on the edge of the neighborhood, while the Washington State Convention Center, federal courthouse and Seattle Children’s Hospital call the Denny Triangle home. On September 26th, a proposal submitted by Vancouver, Wash.-based Holland Partner Group and Seattle-based Weber Thompson to build a 435-unit residential tower at 1000 Virginia Avenue received unanimous approval at its Early Design Guidance meeting from Seattle’s Downtown Design Review Board.
“Development has been very robust on the hospitality side for hotels, and also on the commercial office side, but Seattle needs housing,” explained Blaine Weber, the founding partner of Weber Thompson. Weber is also the principal in charge of the project and the director of the firm’s high-rise design studio. “We’re seeing a new wave of housing, particularly high-rise housing, in the Denny Triangle and in South Lake Union, so that contributes to a vibrant live-work-play community.”
The 46-story, 440-foot tall development would rise in place of the lot’s existing building. 250 parking stalls are also planned; 180 spaces would be located below-grade, while the remaining 70 would be surface-level parking. The development is just one of a variety of high-rises that will grace Seattle’s growing skyline in the coming years. The Triangle, which was once considered a more industrial part of town, has transformed over the last four to five years thanks to projects like Tilt49, an 11-story, 307,000 square foot office mid-rise, and Hill7, a 420,000 square foot office building.
The board evaluated three massing options, the third of which was approved. Called “Jenga,” in reference to the children’s game which involves removing wooden blocks one-by-one from a tower, the massing of the building juts out at various heights to create what Weber-Thompson describes as a sculptural form. A wood-like metal slat façade would wrap around the ground level to create a soffit. A metal screen option for the same corner of the building is also under consideration.
“These towers are large; this one will be 480 feet tall, and there is no getting away from the idea that it’s a tall tower,” explained Weber. “But we can at least find some way to break down the mass with smaller elements that help to slenderize the tower visually.”
The design team also chose to create a larger street setback in order to create a larger outdoor space that could be enjoyed by both residents and the general public at large. Initial renderings of the space show large planters, trees and ample seating space.
“We proposed to set back a significant portion of the project at-grade, where we could contribute to the green space with a much more robust space, which provides more circulation,” said Weber.
Holland Partner Group and Weber Thompson have worked together previously on other high rises in Seattle, including Premiere on Pine, a 39-floor residential tower located at 1525 9th Avenue in Seattle, and Kiara Tower, a 40-floor, luxury apartment tower located at 111 Terry Avenue North in South Lake Union. Premiere on Pine and Kiara Tower have 386 and 461 units, respectively.
“Every project is unique,” said Weber when asked how the 1000 Virginia Avenue project compared to Weber Thompson’s previous projects. “Generally speaking, the design of every tower is in response to the site and the client’s vision. We let those major drivers allow the design to evolve as we study many different options.
According to Weber, there were as many as 12 preliminary designs for the 1000 Virginia Avenue project, although the design team only presented three.
“I think the board was appreciative of the effort to connect to a local context and the greater urban fabric,” said Weber of the board’s feedback. “The board supported the preferred option unanimously and also supported the departures predicated on some conditions in further development.”
Once the project breaks ground, construction is expected to last approximately 30 months. Weber was not at liberty to disclose the total cost of the project.