By Jack Stubbs
On Tuesday May 1st, a 36-story mixed-use project slated for downtown Seattle was approved at a second Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting. At the meeting, applicant NBBJ Architects presented updated plans to the board on behalf of Urban Visions, the developer of the mixed-use project.
The team for the project—which was last reviewed at an initial EDG meeting in December 2017—also includes MKA (structural/civil engineer), Site Workshop (landscape architect), Morrison Hershfield (enclosure), Graelic (parking), Lerch Bates (vertical transportation), Hart Crowser (geo tech), McCullough Hill Leary, PS (land use), O’Brien & Company (sustainability) and Sellen (pre-construction).
The Marion project, located at 801 3rd Ave., calls for the construction of a new 36-story commercial building that will include 34 floors of office space (comprising 820,000 square feet), six levels of below-grade parking and retail uses at ground level. The team envisions a modern, high-performance tower with features that emphasize the overall sustainable design and health of the building’s residents. Specifically, the development will ultimately be positioned to serve office tenants in the technology sector and will employ “smart” features aimed at enhancing user experience and minimizing water and energy usage.
Beginning the applicant team’s presentation, Ryan Mullenix of NBBJ discussed the primary design changes that the applicant team had made to the project plans since the previous EDG meeting. In response to the board’s feedback, the applicant team refined the exterior massing of the office tower, and also worked on enhancing the relationship between the development and the adjacent streetscape. Mullenix also articulated how the applicant had improved the visual impact of the building in relation to the adjacent Interstate-5; further detailed the structure’s exterior facade; and revised the location of the building entrances.
The board’s clarifying questions were brief, and focused on how the applicant team planned to program various design elements of the project. Board member Aaron Luoma asked for clarification about the building’s facade modulation and how the structure would relate to surrounding downtown developments. Board member Grace Leong asked for information about the energy-saving qualities of the fins on the facade.
During the meeting, one public comment requested that the applicant team emphasize transparency between the project and the adjacent streetscape, especially along the east and west facades.
Much of the board’s deliberation period centered around the current massing of the building and how the project would relate to the adjacent streetscape along 3rd Ave. The board agreed that the applicant would need to work on the orientation of the proposed “green wall” and alter the design of the building’s main entrance. The board also emphasized that the applicant should ensure that the building’s facade was differentiated from the nearby F5 Tower.