An office development proposed for Seattle is getting a brand new look after the project site changed ownership. During an Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting for the project last week, the new building owners, PMB Real Estate Services, shared updated plans for a 340,000 square-foot life sciences development at the site. However, due to the many changes made in the project since the first meeting, the design review board ultimately asked the project team to return for an additional meeting.
The newest iteration of the project design, which comes from Perkins & Will, includes the development of a 15-story office building located at 1305 Stewart Street. In December of 2019, the property was owned by Arbutus Properties, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based real estate development firm. At that time the company shared plans to construct a 15-story office building totaling 290,000 square feet.
“The site is under new ownership. Our client is Pacific Medical Buildings, also known as PMB,” Erik Mott, principal design director for Perkins+Will, said. “PMB, is a developer that has national experience as well as a local presence and specializes in the design of buildings and communities for programs that support human health. The focus of this building’s program is now life science. It was previously office at the EDG, but PMB is very committed to design excellence and innovation and their team is really excited about this opportunity and we’ve been working very close with them on this project leading up to this meeting.”
While it has been more than two years since the project first appeared before the board, several changes have been made to the site, ultimately influencing new design concepts, Mott explained. Previously, a live music venue, El Corazón, was part of Arbutus Properties’ redevelopment plan. However, the building has been pulled from the plans, changing the overall shape of the project site and making the previously accepted design unusable.
“El Corazón is no longer a part of the property, and so the site now excludes the El Corazón building to the east and the El Corazón building will remain, or at least it’s not a part of this development proposal,” Mott explained. “…The trapezoidal shape has now had a bite taken out of it, the southeast corner, and as a result based on the dimension of that, the removal of that property becomes a bit less flexible for planning.”
To accommodate for the new size and shape of the site, the project team proposed three new design concepts that could better suit the new constraints. The first option is an acute and rectilinear approach to the site, according to project plans. The design scheme offers a setback along Denny Way as well as at the corner to enhance the pedestrian experience.
The second option would implement a stronger tower form with a curved corner expression while maintaining a continuous podium parallel to the streetfront.
The third and preferred option, however, combines elements of both options through a curvilinear response to the new site context. The preferred massing creates relief and a setback that creates added public space along the corner.
“Our third and our preferred alternative really enhances the best aspects of the second alternative and extends the tower up, notably along the east to to express two integrated forms and to create rooftop amenities and to modulate the podium even further along Denny to reinforce the pedestrian experience, really accentuating the expression of the building at the skyline scale as well as at the podium scale in a more distinct and more assertive way,” Mott said.
Upon completion of the project team’s presentation, the Design Review Board concluded that it would be best to move the project to an additional EDG meeting, primarily due to the many changes the board had not been previously made aware of.
Overall, the board was comfortable with the newly chosen design scheme. However, the board also addressed several concerns that they felt the new design concepts did not address. Primarily, the board asked the design team to further the development of the design as it still seemed very early in the design stages.
In the next EDG meeting, the board asked the team to come up with a new design concept that could inspire further development of the building. Other items to address included a blank wall along the east facade of the building, a hidden entrance along Eastlake Avenue and the overall massing breakdown at the top of the building.