Home AEC Review Board Recommends Design Approval for 166-Unit Belltown Project

Review Board Recommends Design Approval for 166-Unit Belltown Project

Belltown, Seattle, Burrard Properties, Hewitt, Hull Building, Glaser Building
Courtesy of HEWITT

By Meghan Hall

A unique residential development–with both short- and long-term rental units–has cleared its final design review hurdle. At a meeting in July, Seattle-based Burrard Properties, along with Hewitt Architects, presented their plans for 2407 1st Ave. The 166-unit project, which seeks to emulate historical buildings in the neighborhood and commercial influences like Pike Place Market,  was well-received by the Downtown Design Review Board.

Of the 166 residences, 41 will be short-term rental apartments. One level of below-grade parking, 140 bicycle spaces and 5,500 square feet of commercial space on First Ave., are planned. An additional 5,500 square feet will be designated for indoor and outdoor amenities on the rooftop.

The overall design goal, according to project documents, was to recognize the history of the neighborhood and the Hull Building and Glaser Building that flank the site,  while remaining architecturally distinct. Other distinguishing goals of the project include the creation of pedestrian-friendly, street-level uses, activating and enhancing the character of the adjacent alley, and providing a direct connection to First Ave.

“The immediate neighborhood is also littered with iconic cultural landmarks which hold a deep and profound place in the history of Belltown and Seattle,” design documents state. 

The documents add, “Belltown is the most densely populated neighborhood in Seattle, located on the downtown waterfront, near Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Lower Queen Anne and the rest of Downtown. Originally a brick warehouse district of low-rent, semi industrial uses, the area has transformed into a walkable, mixed use neighborhood with galleries, restaurants, shops, residential towers, warehouse lofts, schools and colleges including the Art Institute of Seattle. All this makes for an active, well connected and desirable neighborhood.”

The immediate vicinity also maintains a residential character and “consistent patterns replicated” through the neighborhood’s built environment, documents explain. Structures in the area range from mid- to high-rises and typically have one- or two-story podiums. Linear window patterns, projecting bays, masonry, metal and fiber cement are all commonly used in Belltown.

Given this design context, the massing of the project is defined by a modern interpretation of traditional building typology. The base of the building is defined by an active street edge, while the middle of the project will be defined by residential fenestration and window patterns. The top of the building articulated roof terminus.

The base of the building will be defined by a canopy with a depth of four feet. Its underside will be timber and meant to be a lighter element. Equally spaced column caps will tie in with the canopy, as well as glass storefront vitrines. The “Laneway,” a visual and physical connection to the Terrace level and alley, will be defined by a generous stair and “sculptured void.” 

At mid-level, each floor will be marked with 45-degree angled metal flashing. Column caps will continue up the facade, expressing walls between units, while further modulation will be provided by window modules, which are almost perfect squares. “Inward steps” between the windows and column caps provide further visual interest.

The terminus of the building will again pull inspiration from its neighbors and feature a more sculptural and organic form. A stepped massing will respond to the technical and operational requirements of the building and meet the mineral side walls, as well.

The materials palette for the project will be composed of a mix of warm, earthy tones, including both mineral and  copper cladding, aluminum window frames, plywood, concrete and perforated aluminum. 

Overall, the Board was “very pleased” with the evolution of the massing since early design guidance, noting specifically that the roof massing, laneway entry, material development and alleyway had improved greatly. It approved of most design changes made by the team, and only made small recommendations that the project team will consider as it finalizes its designs.

The Board asked the team to integrate signalization into the garage, as well as study the use of wood materials to make sure that it would remain durable in the long-run. Additionally, the Board asked the project team to maintain the “crispness” of the facade through additional details and materials. Finally, the Board asked the project team to continue refining materials and ensure that safety, security and visibility goals were met to make the space both welcoming and elegant. 

With these comments in mind, the Board voted to approve the design of the project, allowing the development team to move forward with the remainder of the entitlements process.