221-unit multi-family building planned for Seattle’s University District advances through design review process


By Catherine Sweeney

A 221-unit apartment building planned for Seattle’s University District is progressing through the city’s design review process. On Monday, Core Spaces, which is developing the project, met with the Northeast Design Review Board for an Early Design Guidance meeting. The council eventually approved the project, moving it forward through the permitting process.

The project is designed by GGLO and would take shape along 1205 NE 50th Street. According to the project proposal, the building would reach 25 stories, total 260,000 square feet and include 1,500 square feet of retail space.

The site is currently being developed with a vacant one-storey commercial building. The commercial building would be demolished and the new residential building would be constructed along the SE corner of 50th Street NE and 12th Avenue NE, with the entry and ground floor programming on 12th Avenue and units residential located in the tower above.

“The main drivers of this development relate to the fine-grained urban context of the new and existing multi-family buildings surrounding the site… giving a unique building identity, a clear and coherent massing that responds appropriately to the different contexts and scales of the site, responding to the very different street conditions along 50th and 12th and, of course, creating an effective modulated backdrop for the new open space on Brooklyn Avenue, GGLO Director Jeff Foster said.

During the meeting, the design team presented three concepts, ultimately resulting in a preferred concept, which includes a stepped roof profile to the north and a thin tower mass with vertical proportions. The setbacks at 50th and 12th also create more pedestrian space around the corner.

The massing of the building also aims to relate to the context of the surrounding neighborhood and contribute to the overall architectural style of the U district through playful materials and livable terraces with open spaces in the setbacks of the tower. The tower also provides a distinctive architectural presence along 50th and serves as a focal point for new development in the residential area.

“We think of all three schemes, this tower forms the most effective backdrop to the open space. As you can see the building works well here at the 160 foot benchmark. It creates a successful mass here that relates to the form of open space,” Foster said.

Other schemes included the “Gasket-Code Compliant” scheme, which featured extruded massigns wrapped by exterior elements. This design scheme also includes a recessed podium that juts out from the ground floor to emphasize the lobby programming.

A second unused design scheme, the ‘Corner Peel’ featured a sculptural corner element at the 50th and 12th that would serve as the foreground focal point for the building.

Overall the board showed unanimous support for the preferred design scheme and also noted the importance of the main corner being clear and usable on a human scale as well as the importance of open space and connection between the residential building and the alley.

However, moving forward, the council also asked the design team to focus more on the development of the open space element and the roof terrace. Specifically, the advice suggests looking deeper outside by walking around the northern corner. The facade of the building, in terms of colors and materials, is also to be developed in the future, the council said.

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