By Meghan Hall
Fitting a new development into a changing architectural landscape can be a challenge, and every project team employs different approaches to tackle Seattle’s evolving urban fabric. In the case of Seattle-based Epic Asset Management and Tiscareno Associates, the strategy for the new Amalfi Apartments was to give varying and unique design treatments to each façade to respond to surrounding development. However, the Board found this strategy only partially successful, and asked the project back for additional review at a late April Recommendation Meeting.
Located at 12337 30th Ave. NE, the project site is located in the Lake City Urban Hub. The neighborhood and surrounding site context is currently a mix of single-story commercial, low- and mid-rise multifamily, as well as several civic buildings. However, the neighborhood is expected to become more urban and pedestrian-friendly in coming years, a detail that requires additional consideration.
Project plans indicate the units will be a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units. Amenities such as bike parking, rooftop deck with green space and fitness center are also denoted within the plans.
“What we wound up with is a kind of C-shaped building with a south facing courtyard,” explained Bill Barton, project manager at Tiscareno Associates. “Since [early design guidance], it has changed very little.”
The 30th Ave. NE façade—the main façade of the building—features a “cascade” design progression. The façade features a traditional base, middle and top. Projecting bays were then added, as was base column spacing, to relate to the bays. Upper level massing was further articulated to emulate and divide the bays, and roof-level details and the entry to the building will be punctuated with color.
“We wanted to use these projecting bays to add some interest and modulation,” noted Barton. “…We then broke the base down into a cascade pattern that roughly follows the slope of the grade.”
The South façade—previously blank—features a somewhat similar scheme with fragmented bays. However, it features band material that wraps around from the 30th Ave. NE façade and its textural orientation varies. A strong vertical highlight was added in the courtyard to add balance and verticality. The North façade has similar features, but the project team also sets the center of the façade back to emphasize the property line, and added balconies for additional visual interest.
The West façade features additional wrapping elements, but bays and balcony projections were restricted. Material texture was added at the wrapped corners, as were several additional pops of color.
Epic Asset Management and Tiscareno also pitched a materials palette of light and dark gray fiber cement siding, brick, metal panels, white cement siding, and bright yellow cement siding, which will act as an accent. Clear anodized storefronts and white vinyl windows will also be used.
The Board generally appreciated the design concept, stating there was strength in the movement of the cascading bays. However, it did ask the design team to provide a study to clarify and strengthen the architectural concept on all facades, especially to the North, South and West. The Board expressed that the wrapping elements and balconies can be distracting, and asked the project team to clarify how other elements, such as the pops of color, will be used. The Board asked that those elements perhaps be streamlined and used intentionally.
The Board also stated that the West façade was the “weakest” in its design concept. Looking ahead, it was recommended that the development team consider incorporating art into its design.
The Board appreciated other elements, like the transparent streetscape design, but asked that other elements like more signage and lighting be added. At the end of the meeting, the Board voted 3-2 to bring the project back for a second Recommendation Meeting. The project team will have several months to refine its design before presenting once again to the community and Northeast Design Review Board.