By Meghan Hall
Seattle has become an increasingly popular destination, with plenty of attractions both inside and outside of the City that cater to a wide variety of business and leisure travelers. This has been a boon for the City’s hotel industry, which posted eight consecutive years of record visits, according to a report released in 2018 by Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization serving as Seattle and King County’s official destination marketing organization for more than 50 years. Some 40 million visitors came to the city and King County in 2017, with downtown Seattle hotel room demand outpacing supply, making new projects, such as one proposed by Third Place Design Co-operative on behalf of Bellevue-based Silver Cloud Inn & Hotels, particularly welcome. The development team plans to build a 23-story hotel with 10 apartment units at 2033 4th Ave., blocks away from the Washington State Convention Center and Pike Place Market in one of the city’s busiest corridors. But it will have some work to do before a final design approval is considered by the City.
The overall design of the building, according to planning documents, is looking to reinforce the existing architecture of the neighborhood, including the Amazon Globes and Cinerama. In response to comments at an earlier design review meeting, the design team wanted to create a hierarchy among the building’s differing uses by using a ribbon element on the façade of the building. This element would begin on the ground floor at the entry, moving upwards and in a consistent manner to connect all four sides of the structure. Integrated lighting and varied use of materials will fill insets created by the ribbon. Horizontal banding connected to the ribbon will continue to define the building, and for the hotel portion of the development, a mix of glazed and solid elements will be used to create interest. Spandrel panels, light ceramic tiles and window walls are just a few of the architectural features the design team hopes to incorporate into its final plans.
The preferred option presented by the design team proposes the largest volume of the three designs, although the programming inside each is attempting to be as similar as possible. “This is our preferred option. It just gets us a tiny bit more width here, and so we’re able to actually introduce some single story elements with the volume. We’re able to really pull this ribbon element from the ground floor up through the building and really make that connection that we’ve wanted to show,” said Poppi Handy, managing director of Third Place Design Co-operative, who presented the vision of the project to the Design Review Board.
The Board’s feedback centered primarily on the ground floor, where the designers proposed to include an open street bar that is related to the hotel portion of the building. Some other questions focused on bike lanes on the street and a need for a clearly demarcated drop-off area. During the Board’s deliberation, the group also focused on the single departure requested by the design team, which was related to the volume of the building in the preferred option, as well as the roof of the structure.
The Board was not fully supportive of the preferred option in the end. Based on the feedback and the design that was presented to them, the board members described what they saw as an “imbalanced building.” They wanted to see a more evolved design that would conduct a deeper light study and how it highlights the ribbon and its impact on the alley, as well. The Board was supportive of the proposed bar, however, but it wanted to see more details and a larger representation of the final product. In the end, it also requested to see material selections, additional details and samples.
Yet, the biggest issue was with the proposed preferred option. The Board’s feedback was that it would support a departure for a code-compliant alternative second option. This can sometimes be challenging, because the design team’s efforts and focus may mainly be centered on a preferred design, but in order to advance the project in the approval process, the developer and the designer will have to provide a more refined version of the development.