By Meghan Hall
As the last segments of the Alaskan Way Viaduct are coming down, a 14-story, 519,000 square foot project was given final design approval at a recommendation meeting on November 5th, ushering a new era for Seattle’s waterfront. Called 800 Alaskan Way, the project is proposed by Martin Selig Real Estate and Perkins + Will, and will serve as an anchor and example for future high-density development near Lake Union.
The project will include 209,000 square feet of commercial office space on seven levels, 136,000 square feet—or approximately 106 residential units—on six levels, a roof top residential amenity space, and 16,700 square feet of ground floor retail, which the team refers to as the Market Hall. The project will also include 278 below-grade parking stalls.
“On Marion, there’s a huge surge in pedestrian activity and cars when the ferry discharges throughout the day, and [brings] millions of passengers a year. Western is a quieter, more retail-oriented street, and Columbia is going to become a major mobility hub,” explained Erik Mott, design principal at Perkins and Will, of the changing neighborhood. “Rapid ride and metro processes will be staged along Columbia, and [in the future] Alaskan Way will be a major focus of development.”
The project’s location was highly influential in its design, according to project documents. Located across Alaskan Way from the Colman Dock, a major attraction along the waterfront, the main design driver was to create a unique focal point to greet those arriving downtown by Ferry or Car. After evaluating three design concepts at an Early Design Guidance meeting in January of this year, the project team moved forward with a scheme referred to as Erode, per the design review board’s suggestion. The initial massing scheme presented a cleaved podium and a multi-story exterior with shifting balconies in an effort to respond to the neighborhood’s varied building heights.
The project team made several changes to the massing based on board feedback, including development of the project’s “fifth façade,” which meant that all mechanical equipment is either screened or fully enclosed. The amenity space has been refined to be more consistent with lower level floors, and terrace and plantings are proposed at level five. The building’s entries have also been made more legible with framing elements, seating, planting and new lighting, while modulation was introduced above the 60-foot mark at Columbia Street to request the review board’s request. Perhaps the most significant change, however, came in the form of a program adjustment for the building: an interstitial residential floor at the fifth level was removed, reducing the height of the building by ten feet. A mix of vision and spandrel glazing, along with perforated metal, will be the main materials palette for the development.
The board unanimously approved the project, but had several recommendations for further refinement of the design as the development moves forward. It commended the simplicity and reasoning for the materials palette and stated that the building is modern and responds well to the neighborhood context, as well as agreeing that the massing is an improvement from the previous EDG meeting. However, it recommended that as the waterfront changes, and street uses evolve, the board would like to see the project incorporate more flexibility to accommodate future transit options such as bus stops, as well as increased pedestrian activity. The board also asked about the inclusion of affordable housing, which had been removed due to the decrease in overall building height.
The board also supported all three requested departures that will allow the development team flexibility with regard to overhead weather protection, rooftop coverage and façade modulations, which allows for the addition of The Marion Street Stair, a public amenity providing connection between the adjacent pedestrian bridge and 800 Alaskan’s retail space at the ground level.
According to previous reporting done by The Registry, the development team plans to break ground in 2020, with completion scheduled for the beginning of 2022, at which point it will be connected to a nearby pedestrian overpass, which has been approved by the City and already partially funded.