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Silverstein Properties’ 418-Unit Proposal to Return to Seattle Design Review Board for Second Recommendation Meeting

Silverstein Properties, Seattle, Handel Architects, Shake Shack, Butcher’s Block

By Catherine Sweeney 

Silverstein Properties’ proposed 418-unit multifamily development in Seattle is one step closer to becoming a reality, following a recommendation hearing with the Downtown Design Review Board. While the board was overall enthusiastic about the design proposal, the project ultimately did not move forward due to several discrepancies surrounding the nature of the design’s proposed departures. 

The project, which is designed by Handel Architects, proposes a 45-story building at 801 Blanchard Street. As well as the residential component, the 500,749 square-foot building would include 992 square feet of retail space and nearly 10,000 square feet of amenity space. 

“What we’re really excited about with this project is its location. It’s close to transit, close to a working environment of a lot of commercial and office buildings, and it’s also very close to many of the landmark built establishments and cultural centers around the Downtown Seattle area,” said Glenn Rescalvo, a partner at Handel Architects. 

The development team had previously met with the Design Review Board for early design guidance. Over the course of these meetings, the project’s site has been a challenge for the development team due to its triangular shape between an existing four-story Butcher’s Table building and a one-story Shake Shack to the south. 

In the meeting leading up to this week’s recommendation meeting, the project team chose a massing concept suitable for the L-shaped site. The concept includes three vertical masses interlocking in a triangular shape, which is intended to make the building appear sleeker and more visually appealing. 

“We really wanted to incorporate this language of this warmer tone that works its way from the base of the building throughout the entire tower to the top,” Rescalvo said. “This is just a more diagrammatic evolution of those three schemes that we’ve been working on throughout these last few months, ending on the new proposed design.”

The design team also suggested a new approach to the expression of the exterior facade to allow for more texture. New concepts include a “pleated facade,” which is intended to create a more dynamic and elegant look through the creation of shadows. The design also includes what has been referred to as a “framed window facade,” a style originating from the look of the  structural exterior beams that support the tower.  

Proposed materials are intended to further enhance the textured look of the project. The building’s exterior would be developed with a mix of materials, including dark granite, campagne aluminum metal cladding and glass. 

“We tried to simplify the facade so that it worked in juxtaposition… But at the same time, each have their own identity, which I think works very successfully as you move around the building,” Rescalvo said. “We also wanted to really emphasize the top of the building because we felt that it was a special sort of element that we felt if we connect the base in the top and the verticality of the skin of the building, it could be much more successful.” 

The building is also designed to enhance the pedestrian experience, according to the proposal. Landscaping, benches and contrasting paving enhance Blanchard street to provide an inviting and attractive streetscape along Green Street, where the main entryway and lobby are situated. 

Overall, the review board approved of the project designs as well as its several revisions. In particular, the board noted its appreciation for the pedestrian conscious elements of the design. The board also approved of the consistency of the materiality through the crown of the building. 

However, in discussing the site’s departures, the board had several concerns pertaining to how the proposed departures might impact the overall design. New departures included a setback at Green Street and an enhanced sidewalk width, which could potentially clash with other approved design elements. With the board not clear on how the newly proposed elements might impact the strong design concept, a recommendation to have the project return for a second hearing was made.