By Meghan Hall
A new, upscale hotel is in the works for Seattle’s rapidly growing Ballard neighborhood, one that the project team hopes will add an elegant and refined feel to market street in the future. At a design recommendation meeting at the beginning of June, Clark Barnes Architecture presented plans for 1766 NW Market St., an eight-story boutique hotel. The owner of the project, 1766 NW Market Street LLC will call the new development the Ballard Hotel.
The hotel will include 120 guestrooms, with a jewel box amenity space located on the ground floor, an outdoor open space, roof deck and one floor of below-grade parking with 30 stalls. The project site used to be home of Ballard Blossom, a local flower shop that first opened in Ballard in 1927 and relocated to the NW Market Street location in 1984.
The design of the project is intended to reflect the project team’s belief that Market Street is a gateway to Ballard, and that the hotel should encourage an open and welcoming presence on the street. In updated project plans, Clark Barnes and the property owner created two plazas that will blend the public sidewalk into landscaping and artistic features. The entry plaza will also act as an extension of the sidewalk. A second plaza will be positioned to the west and will be utilized as a dining plaza that will stretch towards the neighborhood center. Both plazas will have large, glassy openings into the interior of the building to further visual connections throughout the space.
“It’s important for our project to add to the rich variety of open spaces around the neighborhood,” states the project team in design documents. “Studying four precedents in the area has provided us with practical information about how to connect the outdoor spaces to the sidewalk and building entries. We’ve used these precedents to connect the outdoor spaces to the sidewalk, provide multiple pedestrian connections to the sidewalk, and to use the form of the building to define the outdoor spaces.”
The project team utilized outdoor space configurations inspired by Brimmer and Heeltap, Greenfire, The Whale Wins and Valentinetti’s—all known to be popular and innovative spaces throughout the neighborhood—to create its ground floor programming.
However, perhaps most importantly, the development’s design will be informed by its mass timber structure. Mass timber, a category of framing style that uses large solid wood panels, has become increasingly popular in recent years as a sustainable and structurally sound method of constructing new buildings.
The massing of the building will help to highlight the jewel box feature on the ground floor, with setbacks to highlight its presence. The development team chose to keep the massing and setbacks fairly simple in an effort to create a building that will blend more seamlessly with future surrounding projects and development opportunities in the neighborhood.
Because of the use of mass timber, particularly cross laminated timber, in the project, the development team is moving forward with a straightforward selection of materials. The palette includes consistent, large windows with dark frames surrounded by textured resin panels and copper-toned metal panels. Horizontal screening and glazing will also be included in the project.
“This palette has the added quality that, in addition to feeling solid when viewed from a distance, the materials get more and more interesting the closer you get to the building, further drawing pedestrians into the plazas and interior,” the project team explains. “Because our material choices are restrained and complimentary, it works well with the current smaller scale of the existing context.”
The glazing and materials will work to maximize the visibility of the mass timber structure within the system, as will operable storefronts along the western façade.
“CLT structural systems embed true material quality deep into a building, instead of being merely a veneer applied to a substrate. This naturally invites the massing and exterior materials to simplify, to better highlight the simple geometry of the mass timber inside,” the project team added.
The timing for the construction of the hotel is unclear, as is the fate of the Puget Sound hospitality industry at large. In a May forecast, brokerage firm CBRE predicted that it could take several years—until 2023—for the regional hospitality industry to recover, and it could be even longer until hotel development resumes to pre-COVID levels as revenue streams remain low.