By Kate Snyder
Two separate projects that together would bring more than half a million square feet in life science space to Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood gained approval from the West Design Review Board. During a recommendation meeting on Wednesday, the board voted in favor of moving forward BioMed Realty’s proposed development. Although the two projects sit on separate parcels, the project sites are adjacent to each other and have been designed together, plans show.
BioMed Realty is both the property owner and project developer. According to the firm’s website, the site is part of the company’s T6 Innovation Center project. Perkins&Will is the architect on the project.
The proposed developments are located at 205 6th Ave. N and 200 Taylor Ave. N. Plans show that the projects are two life science buildings with two public plazas and 505 vehicle stalls in three levels of below grade parking. The west structure totals approximately 238,700 square feet, and the east structure would come in at about 266,000 square feet. The T6 Innovation Center includes a building on each development site and will be constructed in phases.
The project site is nestled between both the Seattle Center and South Lake Union. The area sits along the transition between neighborhoods, with connections to Uptown, Seattle Center and South Lake Union.
According to the proposal, the building designs pull inspiration from the history of the World’s Fair while at the same time are meant to represent a look toward the future in order to establish itself as an innovation center for life science. An emphasis on the pedestrian realm is designed to provide opportunities to further help the project make a significant contribution to the neighborhood experience. The design team believes the planned alley vacation would allow the project to provide high-quality and varied pedestrian experiences on all sides of the development.
Ryan Bussard, lead architect and design director for Perkins&Will’s Seattle studio, gave a presentation to the board on the details of the design. Bussard highlighted the abundance of nearby projects in various stages of development and how those different proposals are redefining the scale of the neighborhood. He also noted that the juncture between South Lake Union and the Seattle Center creates a mix of design in the surrounding area. The former, he said, is more technology-focused and pedestrian-oriented while the latter is more historic and iconic with a more “playful” architectural language. Overall, Bussard said the area is an interesting neighborhood in terms of the available amenities and connections.
“We’re very pleased with the site’s location,” he said. “This is a really interesting neighborhood due to dilution in terms of development.”
Part of the discussion among board members included the two plazas on the proposal’s south and north ends as well as the connection between them. The board expressed some concerns that the two plazas were almost identical in design, but much of the concerns were placated by the knowledge that the different plantings in the landscape would make the spaces feel distinct and unique.
Other concerns involved the loss of the connection from the planned cafe to the central pedestrian passageway, and the board noted that a study looking into the possibility of reestablishing a pathway there would be appreciated. Board members also discussed the lighting in the center pedestrian passageway and wanted the design team to fully study how the light is working in both daytime and nighttime since it is a narrow and tall space. Two conditions were added to the proposal by the board, which involved a study of the headheight of the planned arches in the design as well as a request to preserve the overhead sidewalk canopies.
Despite the concerns, however, the board was ultimately pleased with the overall design and voted to move both projects forward.