By Meghan Hall
A San Francisco-based developer is moving forward with its plans for a 102-unit mass timber residential development in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood. Juno, a housing developer that wants to “reimagine cities” through innovative development, has placed sustainability and resident well-being at the forefront of its design. At a recent Early Design Guidance Meeting, its schemes resonated with the East Design Review Board, who promptly moved the project forward to Master Use Permit application.
“Juno’s objective is to rethink how housing is developed to inspire residents and help neighborhoods flourish,” design documents explain. Residential unit and building design support sustainability by using low-carbon materials, reducing construction waste and eliminating natural gas…Overall, the building and units are designed to inspire with design care and curation, without comprising comfort or quality, delivering modern livable spaces residents will be proud to call home.”
Juno’s project is located at 1722 Bellevue Ave. The firm has recruited New York City-based Ennead Architects to design the project, and landscaping will be done by local firm Board & Vellum.
In addition to its residential units, the project will also include 6,200 square feet of commercial space. The massing steps back from an entry courtyard, and reacts to both Bellevue and East Olive Way with four volumes located at each corner of the project site. The positioning of the building designed to allow for more variation along Bellevue Way, and a colonnade at the ground plane retail space will further enhance the northwest of the building and public access to the space.
“Through best-in-class design and construction and an unparalleled living experience, this project proposes an approximately 100-unit mixed-use residential apartment building that will benefit the vibrant Capitol Hill community for decades to come,” project documents state. “The proposed mass timber structure will be a seminal example of a deep integration between the built environment and the long-lasting health of our planet, cities, and generations of future residents. This building’s ground-level will also serve as future home to a City Market grocery store.”
The project will be designed, constructed and operated in order to reduce operational and embodied carbon emissions. In an effort to minimize waste, off-site fabrication will reduce construction duration. The majority of the structure will be using mass timber products procured from forests from the Portland, Oreg., area.
In addition to the use of mass timber, the upper floors of the project will be clad in pre-fabricated, corrugated weathered steel wall panels, matte gray sheet panels with dark bronze windows, and weathered steel components. Wood accents on the exterior trim will reflect the structural system visible on the inside. The same dark bronze windows will be utilized at the podium level but on a larger scale in order to create a large, glass storefront.
Overall, the Review Board appreciated the design scheme and what it could offer to the Capitol Hill, based on the cultural history of the area and the architectural context of the neighborhood. The Board supported the strong corners within the design and eight-foot setback along Bellevue Avenue. The Board also supported the concept of legible façade depth and fenestration to break down the perceived bulk and scale of the development.
Moving forward, the Board had several recommendations for the design team. First, the Board asked for documentation to better understand the programmatic needs of the future City Market, and how the proposal satisfies those requirements. The Board also requested a study of the ground floor uses in relationship to public open space and the separate residential and retail entries.
The Board also provided guidance as the mass timber structure should be utilized. The Board strongly supported incorporating as much wood as possible into the façade, or making the structure visible on the exterior. The Board also suggested that the use of highly transparent materials and windows could help the structure show through.
At the end of the meeting, the Board approved the project, allowing it to proceed with the remainder of the design review process. With guidance from the Board in hand, Juno and Ennead Architects will return in several months to present their more finalized design schemes to the Seattle community.