By Kate Snyder
A proposal for a 230-unit apartment building in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood is moving forward in the city’s design process. During an Early Design Guidance meeting on Monday, the Northeast Design Review Board voted to send the proposed project forward to the master use permit.
The developer is an entity affiliated with Prometheus Apartments and the design team includes Portland, Ore.-based Jones Architecture and Seattle-based MG2, according to project plans. Representatives from both firms presented details about the design to the board during the review.
“Taking a close look at the neighborhood, the project is compatible in use and program with the neighborhood and the zone,” said Alan Jones, founding principal of Jones Architecture. “There are adjacent developments that are similar in program and use. In terms of material, we have a desire to use masonry and high-quality cladding, which is also consistent with both the historic and contemporary examples in the neighborhood.”
Located at 3831 Stone Way N, the seven-story project would total 195,930 square feet and include 3,330 square feet of commercial space as well as parking stalls for 175 vehicles.
The site is positioned at the convergence of two major commercial and circulation corridors. Stone Way N to the east and Bridge Way N to the northwest intersect north of the site. The neighborhood has a rich history with a diverse architectural character, and the project plans speculate that as density increases, commercial cores such as Stone Way will become more prominent in the area.
In response to the location and triangular shape of the site as well as feedback from the community, the proposed design is focused on contributing to and enhancing the existing urban context while serving as a gateway to the neighborhood beyond, according to project plans. The design is partially meant to connect historic Seattle apartment buildings with modern high-quality materials and well-proportioned fenestration interwoven to provide desirable residential units and active pedestrian-oriented streetscapes.
Design goals for the project include creating a massing that is well-proportioned and providing a friendly, comfortable, and active pedestrian experience that support commercial uses and the need for privacy at residential units. Another goal is to utilize high-quality materials, both traditional and contemporary, that connect the neighborhood’s history with the modern context of the city.
The design team provided three possible options for the building’s massing scheme. Scheme A would be completely code compliant with the highest unit density of the three proposed options, but the structure would also read as a single mass with little articulation. That option also includes a fully enclosed courtyard which would create a limitation on privacy and natural light. Scheme B features a reduced massing with a partial facade break into a courtyard along N 39th Street and increased daylight into courtyard units. However, that design also requires three departures and the north facing courtyard units would have minimal view with less than ideal natural daylight.
The applicant’s preferred option is Scheme C, which includes material breaks at the corners to decrease the scale of the building mass as well as a southern courtyard that would be ideal for bringing the most natural daylight to the most units. That option would also maximize the number of units with views to the south, including courtyard units. The courtyard would also reduce the mass adjacent to the neighboring building to the south and allow more daylight to
neighboring units along the property line. Scheme C would require two departures.
The board was not unanimous in their decision, with three board members choosing to send the project forward and one board member voting to have the proposal return for a second EDG meeting. Overall, the board wanted to see more details regarding where the design team is drawing inspiration from as well as more information related to the project’s commercial space elevation, ground level site dimensions – setbacks and separation from existing buildings – and how the courtyard space could connect to the sidewalk. There was general support for the developer’s preferred massing option.
Founded in 1965, Prometheus is, according to the company’s website, the largest privately held owner of apartments in the Bay Area, with a portfolio of more than 13,000 apartments in the Silicon Valley, Portland and Seattle regions with another 2,600 apartments in the company’s development pipeline. The firm is headquartered in San Mateo and has satellite offices in Portland and the Bay Area. The firm owns several multifamily complexes in the Seattle area, including the 128 on State Apartments in Kirkland, the Cliffside Apartments in Gig Harbor and The Lakes Apartments in Bellevue, according to its website.