By Meghan Hall
National life science developer BioMed Realty has been in the news quite a bit this past week, as the company’s plans for several downtown Seattle projects take shape. This week, BioMed, along with architecture firm Perkins + Will, presented their initial designs for the T6 Innovation Center, a full-block development in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood.
“We’re really happy to be back here in front of you all,” said BioMed Realty’s Vice President of Development Josh Moshy. “The last time we were here…was for the Dexter Yard project at 700 Dexter.”
The project site is located at 200 Taylor Ave. N. In all, BioMed intends to build two, eight-story structures totaling 492,000 square feet of space. Public plazas and 426 parking stalls are also laid out within the plans.
BioMed’s main inspiration for the project was the neighborhood’s unique location and architectural diversity; during the meeting the project team emphasized that the block is situated between the Belltown, Denny Triangle and South Lake Union neighborhoods, which all have their unique flare.
“This is a really interesting neighborhood; this [site] is part of the Uptown neighborhood,” said Perkins + Will’s Ryan Bussard. “…It is an unusual neighborhood in terms of the urban fabric and the different mix of history and things that have changed over time with this neighborhood and this area of the city.”
The goal of the project’s design will be to bridge the high-tech, modern feel of South Lake Union, with the more whimsical character of Seattle Center and the architectural history of other nearby neighborhoods.
“This is, we feel, a really critical project in terms of the development of the neighborhood and thinking about the connectivity. It is really interesting [to consider] the innovation and spirit of Seattle Center, from “world of tomorrow” concepts being built into that future thinking to that transition into…an arts and tourism hub, and then thinking about the really innovative research being held at South Lake Union,” said Bussard. “Our thinking was: Could this building act as a bridge between those two different worlds?”
BioMed and Perkins + Will presented several design schemes to the West Design Review Board; however, the team’s preferred option was the main focus of the meeting. The design indicated that the property would be developed with two buildings, slightly offset from one another, to create additional massing and flexibility. The scheme intends to pull pedestrian activity onto Green Street and create opportunities for multiple plazas and pedestrian activation along the alley. The entries of each building will be carved out of the facade, breaking down the length of the building. The podium will be “sliced” to cut down on the visual height of the project, as well.
Overall, the review board was relatively receptive to the project’s design, although it did have several questions for the design team moving forward. Much of the board’s discussion centered around the podium and pedestrian levels. The board was worried that without more modulation or a retail space to draw pedestrians through the block, that the project would feel privatized and “campus-like.” The board asked the project team to consider a more clear, diagonal, through-block connection in an effort to bring light, air and activity to the ground plane.
The board also discussed the use of public art and additional setbacks to create a more welcoming ground plane. During deliberation, the board noted that much of the project’s future success was “all about that ‘base,’” a rip off of a popular pop song by Meghan Trainor. The board also wanted more space to be carved out of each building for visual relief, and that the upper levels must develop modulation but also maintain their depth.
At the end of the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to move the project forward. BioMed and Perkins + Will will return in the coming months with more updated plans for the site, including materials, lighting and more.
The approval follows BioMed’s recent $126.75 million purchase of another full block in Denny Park at 2300 7th Ave. and 2301 8th Ave. The property will be redeveloped into a 616,000 square foot life science and technology park. Combined with the T6 Innovation Center, the two projects will represent more than 1.2 million square feet of new development, according to previous reporting by The Registry.