Character preserved? Design review slated for high profile 11th and Pine project

Well that was fast. It was only a little over a week ago when we found out about this project (previous coverage here) and its already up for Design Review on August 19th. Just to recap the new building will be a 6-story residence with 84 apartments and “artist lofts” (What makes them specifically for artists will certainly be a question at the Review) And of course ground floor retail. Two interesting things about the project: the original facade will remain and their will only be 4 parking spaces.

This will be an Early Design Guidance meeting, which means that its your best chance to give your opinion and influence the project. While I’m excited to see what the developers, Pryde + Johnson, will do with it, I also think its important that the community keeps a close eye on the process. The location and history of this project mean it will undoubtedly be one of the most high profile projects on the Hill and will play a big part in defining Pike/Pine’s future character. It also comes in the wake of the City Council’s approval of the Pike/Pine Conservation District legislation designed to preserve the neighborhood’s ‘character.’

I’m not the only one who thinks you should go to the meeting. In an e-mail thread sent around by PPUNC (Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Coalition) none other than Liz Dunn, local developer, Director of the Preservation Green Lab at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and all around Hillebrity, sent out this response:

My 2 cents — I think it’s imperative that as  many folks turn up as possible for this.  I have heard that the owner intends to keep the existing structure and build on top, to get the density bonus.   This is great only IF this is done in an architecturally appropriate way.   I think we need to be very careful and very vocal about this, based on other examples we have seen.   This building has THREE highly visible walls, including the alley wall on the east side which is two stories and fully glazed.  All three of these walls should be retained.   The original window design and mullion pattern should be replicated, or better yet the original windows re-glazed.  And the new structure needs to step back from the existing parapet enough on all three sides that the existing building sits “proud” (in the architectural sense) from the new structure.   Hopefully the developer will bring historic photographs that speak to any features that should be restored or alterations that should be undone, although the nice thing about this building is that it looks mostly intact.  

 This will set an important precedent, because these kind of design guidelines are a critical missing piece from the new overlay legislation.  Design review is the only venue to make sure the new rules get implemented in the way we intended and in a way that will lead to success in terms of retaining the integrity of the original structures.

The developer will likely cite cost as a reason to remove one of the three walls for site access.  But it is a large site (15,000 sf) and with the roof off it should be entirely possible to work within the existing perimeter walls and have lots of room to maneuver, especially since there are already very large access doors and ramp from the 11th Avenue side.    If I had had 15,000 sf to work with at 12 & Pike I would have been in heaven.

So do what Liz says and come to the meeting!

Date: August 19th, 2009

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Seattle Vocational Institute, 2120 S. Jackson St. Rm 102/103 [map]

Note: If you find yourself obsessing over Capitol Hill development issues, you should join CHCC’s brand new Policy and Planning Committee. We will tackle such issues as the Light Rail TOD, better building Designs, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, an improved Neighborhood Plan, and much more! If you would like to get involved please send me an email at  Also join us for our first meeting Wednesday, August 12th from 7:30 – 9:30pm at Vermillion (11th and Pike, just down the street from this project).

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8 thoughts on “Character preserved? Design review slated for high profile 11th and Pine project

  1. Because this meeting is Early Design Guidance, not Design Review, which means we have a lot of opportunity to influence the process.

    (also the pdf linked to this meeting on the Design review page is for entirely different Brad Khouri project up near volunteer park)

    The architect for this project is GGLO.

  2. Yeah I noticed that the Design Review pdf was wrong. I don’t think they will have one up for a couple more weeks for this project. Since it is Early Design Guidance the developers probably won’t have too much of a design for the new building, except for ideas about massing, so as you say, its a great opportunity to get your opinions heard before too much work has already been done.

  3. why do they have these design review meetings in places that are very difficult to get to you if you don’t have a car. 21st and Jackson – are you kidding me? Why not have the meeting in our neighborhood – Miller Park, Community College?

  4. I will find out why the meeting is being held so far from the site.

    It is likely too late to change the meeting site without confusing people. I will ask that they hold future meetings closer to the neighborhood of the projects under review.

    I will ask DPD to include CHS Blog in its response.

    Thanks everyone for your interest in this project.

    Tom Rasmussen
    Seattle City Council

  5. I and a number of other attendees have complained repeatedly over the last 2 years about meetings being held out of the neighborhood. The only result is that even more meetings are being held out of the neighborhood than in the past. I get the impression that the general rule is: In cases where a development is of special significance to the neighborhood, it should be held as far away from the neighborhood as possible.

    Perhaps Josh did not receive my reply, but I did reply to Liz Dunn’ comments as follows: I will be there. No matter how many people who turn up, if they do not speak with a consistent voice, any divisions will be exploited by the developer.

    I think the existing design guidelines are both sufficient and clear enough to protect such buildings and their existing contexts. Unfortunately, the Council, the Design Review Board, the Hearing Examiners and the Superior Court, not to mention some powerful individuals in the neighborhood, give them short shrift. I have consistently argued, based on my knowledge of their history, in support of the design guidelines, and in support of the design review process being followed as it was meant to be by the individuals and neighborhoods who assisted in its creation. I believe it is a problem that there are now a number of buildings in the area, some heartily endorsed by the individuals in receipt of this email, that do not meet the guidelines, that it makes arguing for adherence to the guidelines more difficult. I provided research to the Council regarding conservation districts in 46 other cities/jurisdictions and told them that many of them enforce the design intent with design guidelines that are enforceable and enforced. It didn’t appear to have any impact on the Pike/Pine Conservation District Overlay Ordinance.

    This is a classic Auto Row building with a character that the neighborhood expressed the desire to protect and respect. The Pike/Pine Neighborhood Plan and the Design Guidelines, neither of which have been amended according to procedures required by law, were enacted to achieve this desire.

    Based on what I have seen so far regarding the developer’s plans, you are likely to be disappointed Liz. To give you some idea of how they view the recent odinance, in the request for one of a number of departures, they state: “The length of the street frontage for Retail 1 along East Pine is proposed to be the full length of the block (approx. 128 feet) interrupted midway by the residential exit stair rather than 50 feet as indnicated in the new Pike/Pine Conservation District Overlay District [sic] requirements.” I can supply more details later, but I felt the need to respond to this email now. Even if the builder just builds on top, it will result in the destruction of the sawtooth glazing features, which results in the destruction of some of the building’s key cultural and architectural character. For me, conservation is about protecting more than a few favored characteristics of the historic Auto Row vernacular: it is about protecting an integrated historical, architectural and cultural context.

    I agree the original window design and mullion pattern should be replicated, and would be concerned that if the windows are reglazed that any reglazing be done in a manner that reflects the traditional vernacular architectural elements of Pike/Pine style. I do not agree with setting back the building: Pike/Pine buildings typically rise straight up from the property line. The building does appear to be mostly intact. The developer may find that problematic as the interior is vast. I think the interior, though rundown, is incredibly beautiful and is one of the best intact representations of the historic Auto Row vernacular. I would be heartily disappointed to see it all swept away as it was in the Foley Building, another building that had phenomenal historic, architectural and cultural value that have been lost forever.

    Justin, housekeeping note: the link is not to my comments but to an article on my nomination to the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee.

  6. There was not a lot of information in the MUP Packet the last time I examined it, but here is some additional relevant information from it:

    GGLO drafted “three feasible alternatives”:

    Alternative A is characterized as the “slab” scheme, It would have significant setbacks on the north and south, but none on 11th avenue (although the drawing is ambiguous on that point). There would be an overhang on the private alley parking access would be from 11th Avenue.

    Alternative B would have an internal court on the southeast corner of the lot, with the west and north building faces at street edge. Parking access would be from the alley. This is the preferred alternative.

    Alternative C would place the court on the NW corner of the lot, with setbacks on the east and north. Parking access would be from E. Pine.

    The court appears to take up 1/5 to 1/4 of the lot area.

    GGLO did a massing study for a 65′ height and one for a 75′ height. Judging from those drawings there is no setback from the street edge of the existing facade.

    The drawings show a traffic bulb at the corner of E. Pine and 11th. The concept plan for the street level shows a lobby (260 GSF), which leads into a residential lobby (630 GSF) that is about 1/3 of the lot length from the corner of 11th and E. Pine on 11th. There are two retail spaces, a smaller one on the southwest corner of the development (3,300 GSF) and a larger one (6,200 GSF) on the north side and northwest corner of the site. Trash/Recycle takes up 400 GSF and Parking 1, 950 GSF. Residential storage appears to be 450 GSF, but it may be 900 GSF – the drawing is ambiguous.

    The concept plan for the residential level provides for four 2BR, 6 studios, and four 1BR.

    Project data states that street level commercial use is exempt from the calculation of gross floor area to FAR per 23.73.009.C.1.

    GGLO has a goal of Leed Silver Certification.

    They claim the building was built in 1926, but that is incorrect according to my most recent research. Their application fails to mention the Pike/Pine Neighborhood Plan, although they mention the Design Guidelines. They fail to mention the significant architectural and cultural context of this site and the surrounding sites. They list as one of their objectives creating “a building of DISTINCTIVE ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER [emphasis added – I have a difficult time reconciling distinctive with a building that fits into the existing context] compatible with the character of the neighborhood…” A waffle comes to mind:)

    Desired uses are residential apartments and artist loft work space among others.


    Northern retail space floor height of 11′ rather than 13′ to maintain adequate window head height of approximately 7′ in residential on Level 2;

    The departure regarding retail space I mentioned in my previous email

    The preliminary application give a description for a renovated 7-story mixed use building within the facade of an existing character structure with the existing 14,000 sf basement to be remodeled for an artist work loft.

    The GGLO responsible is David Winans who worked on the Hjarta in Ballard.