Multifamily Housing in South Lake Union
A complicated site leads to an understated yet distinctive multifamily addition to a bustling, transitional Seattle neighborhood.
Located at the intersection of Dexter Avenue North and Lee Street, this 160-unit apartment building stands out as an elegant and sophisticated counterpoint to the sea of brightly colored buildings composing Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The building was developed on one of the few remaining infill lots along Dexter Avenue North, just as the neighborhood transitions to Westlake.
With both architecture and landscape architecture services provided in-house as an integrated design team from project launch, the result is a holistic, beautiful pedestrian and resident experience seamlessly integrating indoor and outdoor spaces.
Nested between a major arterial, Aurora, to the west and Lake Union to the east, the site’s location is a dynamic, multi-modal transit corridor with dedicated bike lanes, frequent bus service, and a strong pedestrian presence.
The building’s sculpted massings are designed to accentuate the high-profile corner lot and emphasize the pedestrian experience, resulting in three primary elements: a brick-clad tower, a two-story pedestrian-oriented base, and waffle-like rectangular volumes which hover over the street.
A “gasket” clad in wood separates the brick corner tower and flanking rectangular volumes while visually connecting the street level articulation to an amenity roof deck. The corner tower is carved away at the 8th level to allow for the shared roof deck, which captures expansive views to the southeast, including Downtown, Lake Union, and Capitol Hill beyond. An adjacent club room adjoins the deck, connecting to the outdoor space through a large, folding glass door.
At street level, the corner tower is punctured with a highly transparent, asymmetrical entry that effectively connects the building’s lobby and “front of house” spaces with the pedestrian-oriented street-level experience beyond. Units along Dexter Avenue follow the gently sloping grade and are accessed through generously glazed storefronts.
The building’s north façade faces a municipal services metro pump station and will remain undeveloped. To respond to this condition, a supergraphic representing the northern lights was included in the design. The graphic provides visual interest and purpose to what would otherwise remain a blank canvas.
On a challenging site in a neighborhood where parking is at a premium, triple-level stacked parking equipment vastly expands the building’s parking capacity, transforming the space typically allocated to nine cars to instead accommodate 26, granting the building 61 underground parking spaces.
The site posed other challenges, too, including 25 feet of existing east-to-west grade change, and the need for contaminated soil remediation, complex shoring and excavation, and a complicated foundation system. Despite these challenges, our team led the project through the SDCI Design Review process in a single meeting – a testament to the dedication of our team and client, and the beauty of the project.
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