By Meghan Hall
A new era of development has overtaken Seattle’s Denny Triangle, with several 400-foot tall residential and office towers in the works. Dallas, Tx.-based Trammell Crow is also looking to add to the changing neighborhood, located just one mile northeast of Seattle’s downtown core and in close proximity to the iconic Amazon Spheres. The developer, along with architecture firm LMN made a step in the right direction Tuesday night with the design approval of their 10-story commercial office building located at 1930 Boren Ave.
The building, which will include 115,000 square feet of office and 4,250 square feet of retail space, will be more modest in size than some of the Denny Triangle’s other developments. Nearby 1916 Boren Ave. will eventually host a 440-foot mixed-use tower and a “sidecar” hotel, while 1901 Minor Ave. will be home to two 400-foot tall residential towers on top of an eight-story podium. Meanwhile, Seattle Children’s Hospital is beginning the Master Use Permitting process for a new 23-story building with office, laboratories and R&D space at 1024 Stewart St.
The developer, Trammell Crow, purchased the property in December 2018 from Safe Haven Associates for $17.3 million. Safe Haven Associates, a community psychiatric clinic based in Lake City north of Seattle, originally bought the property for $792,000 in 1996, according to public documents. Currently, the property is developed with a group care home center that totals 16,520 square feet. The building was built in 2003 and sits on about half an acre.
The project team envisions an elegant, loft-like building with subtle sophistication that will aim to enhance the pedestrian experience and provide an elegant and familiar structure that harkens to an industrial legacy of the neighborhood. The exterior architecture will feature new and traditional building materials in an attempt to be complementary to the urban context of the neighborhood. The massing of the building is simple and uses a grid pattern and proportions to create a well-proportioned and unified building. Steel balconies along the Boren Ave. façade allow brick piers to terminate and complete the massing form as well as to create a break from the property line of the adjacent building. Dark steel supports will carry a translucent glass canopy along Boren Ave. and Virginia St., acting as an asymmetrical break in the building’s well-regulated design. Recessed window bays will provide even more depth to the building’s facades.
Design documents show that the exterior of the building will be clad in dark brick, light precast concrete panels, glass and metal panels of varying shades of gray. “We have three materials going on here,” said LMN Architects Partner Walt Niehoff, who presented the vision of the project to the Design Review Board and showcased the near complete design the developer was pursuing.
The tenth, top floor of the building will also feature a set back and provide a private outdoor space that will include a garden and space for gathering. The set back will feature a simple retainer that will merge with the rest of the design, while the landscaping on the roof will feature a mix of perennials designed to provide a visually appealing sight from the taller buildings surrounding this structure.
No departures were requested at the time of the meeting.
This was the development team’s second meeting with the Design Review Board, and the design was nearly final in this presentation. The team also responded to a number of requests that the board expressed in the last meeting, and it maintained the simple, box-like structure of the building.
However, there were a few issues that the board addressed in the meeting and requested that the development team reviews. One of the first issues the board discussed with the team focused on the street level façade elements, and it wondered if there were too many of them. The façade changes somewhat dramatically in the alley, which the board did not fully appreciate. Also, the board wanted the alleyway to provide a more engaging and a pedestrian-friendly experience that would be beneficial to neighboring developments. Overall, the board was pleased with the direction of the project and unanimously approved it to advance in the development application.
With design approval now secured, Trammell Crow and LMN can now proceed with applying for a Master Use Permit, joining the wave of development sweeping through the Denny Triangle.