Street Critic | The Audacity of Volunteers — an I-5 lid update

Riisa Conklin and Alex Zeilier of the Freeway Park Association presenting design principles (Image: Scott Bonjukian)

Tuesday, June 5th saw the second gathering of the faithful for the Central Hills Triangle Collaborative (CHTC), a partnership between PPUNC (the Pike|Pine Urban Neighborhood Council) and Lid I-5. An all-volunteer effort, the goal of the CHTC is to provide visionary urban designs to inspire Seattleites to advocate for covering Interstate 5 with parks, housing, and neighborhood centers. While no public agency has committed to our vision, Lid I-5 was recently successful in securing a $1.5M grant for the City of Seattle to begin a year-long feasibility study. In addition, Lid I-5 continues to have promising discussions with civic leaders and WSDOT and we have been invited by the DOT to a work group that is studying I-5’s future in the Puget Sound Region. With the CHTC’s results in hand we are confident we can capture the public’s imagination and convince leaders to transform Seattle by re-imagining its largest publicly-owned asset.

Spirits were high and the results of the seven teams’ efforts were remarkable. Beginning with the Connections Team (infrastructure, mobility, and branding) and progressing through the South (recreation), Central (commerce), and North (housing) Teams, it was apparent that each team was excited in presenting their work and in the work of their fellow designers. Scott B, Sony P, and I were excited too, not only by the goodwill and cheer exuded by the teams but also by our recent success in the $1.5M grant. The work of the CHTC will help the city visualize and define the scope of work for their RFQ scheduled for later this year. Continue reading

Design board settles on big new mural to solve Capitol Hill building’s color problem

The mural is planned to cover this giant blank cement wall currently facing the FAME Church parking lot

Murals solve everything. The fix for this Capitol Hill building forced to return to design review this week because it has the wrong color siding will be a giant mural running the length of the western wall below the Broadcast Apartments. No matter the solution, the situation is going to be a challenging and potentially expensive outcome for the developer.

The East Design Review Board settled on the solution Wednesday night in an extraordinary session for the body that had it questioning the very essence of its own existence. “Should we accept a $5,000 mural vs. a $50,000 fix?” one board member asked.

At issue was the bronze-colored siding used across the entirety of the completed and occupied Broadcast building, the champagne-colored siding that was supposed to be used on the structure’s vertical “fins” but wasn’t because the developer says the material was not available, and, of course, what to do about it. Continue reading

Design review slated for Capitol Hill apartment building’s missing ‘champagne’

For lack of “metallic champagne,” Capitol Hill’s newly completed Broadcast Apartments building will, indeed, face a rare post-construction design review Wednesday night. This public comment letter might sum up many reactions to the meeting:


But the effort to review the change in materials used on the project is required, the city told CHS last month when we reported on the brewing color issues at the 1420 E Madison development.
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New guidelines set to refresh design of Capitol Hill development

The design of the next waves of Capitol Hill redevelopment could get a refresh under a set of proposed design guidelines that would govern buildings in the neighborhood.

“I think there’s an acceptance there’s going to be growth and there’s going to be change,” said Patrice Carroll, an urban planner with the city who is helping with the development of the new guidelines.

Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Open House

The original guidelines for the area were established in 2005, then revised in 2013 to reflect a larger, citywide update. In broad terms, the guidelines give developers an idea for how a building should look, and what sorts of amenities are important to the neighborhood. Continue reading

City says missing color means Capitol Hill’s completed Broadcast Apartments must go back to design review

The 70 or so residents living inside and the owners of an incoming restaurant don’t seem to mind one bit but a newly constructed Capitol Hill building has a major color problem and is likely headed back to the design review board to sort things out.

“We think it’s an extremely attractive building. It’s been very successful,” Trent Mummery tells CHS about the Metropolitan Homes development now standing on the northwest corner of 15th and Madison. “We’re puzzled why this issue is even coming up.”

The date hasn’t yet been set but the Broadcast Apartments could end up being one of those unusual — but not totally unheard of — Seattle projects to be approved by the design review board after its construction has been completed. Continue reading

Pivot: Gardened terraces out, mixed-use and offices in at the base of Capitol Hill

The future gaze from downtown highrises will reveal Pivot, gateway to Capitol Hill

There aren’t many of the elements left that won so much attention for the project when CHS first reported on it in the summer of 2016. The rooftop restaurant? Poof. The garden-like terraces rising above I-5? Gone with the wind. But after a long and circuitous route through the Seattle process, the appropriately named Pivot project set to rise at the base of Capitol Hill at Pine and Melrose has changed enough to make it to Wednesday night’s possible last design review.

Design review: 1208 Pine St

The review board will see a much more streamlined design focused for an eight-story, 70-unit apartment and office mixed-use building that is also planned for street-level retail. Neighborhood guidelines prefer those 5,200 square feet of restaurant or shop space to be on the ground floor — not the rooftop. Some 14,000 square feet will be dedicated to office space while 16 spaces are planned in the underground parking garage. Continue reading

Design review board has first look at Belmont Ave low-income and re-entry project

(Images: SMR Architects)

Capitol Hill’s design review pipeline has slowed to a trickle but there are still a few important new projects on the board. Wednesday night, a development from Pioneer Human Services part of $101 million in funding for affordable housing projects across Seattle will take its first step in the process.

Design Review: 1717 Belmont Ave

Pioneer on Belmont will be a seven-story apartment building with 90 units designed for a mix of the lowest income tenants and housing for formerly incarcerated and homeless residents: Continue reading

‘Pick two of your favorites from these images’ — Take this survey to help shape the next decade of Capitol Hill development

In November, CHS reported on the process to update the Capitol Hill Design Guidelines — Rule #1: No ugly buildings, we quipped. The guidelines, which haven’t been updated since 2005, serve as a neighborhood-specific vetting framework for projects that go through the city’s broader design review process. These guidelines inform how design review boards evaluate the exterior aesthetic of proposed projects (the guidelines include metrics such as building materials and building shape).

Community groups and neighbors highly engaged in the effort have provided feedback to shape the update — but officials are also collecting preferences from respondents via this Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Update survey:

Continue reading

Design review: Pratt Fine Arts Center development in the CD, ‘upscale’ small efficiency project on Capitol Hill

A development set to create market-rate housing and reshape a key block of Central District arts and culture and a project that proves Capitol Hill microhousing is not dead will both take their debut bows in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

1900 S Jackson
The plan announced in spring to create a full-block expansion of the Pratt Fine Arts Center in conjunction with a six-story, 160-unit mixed-use will move forward Wednesday night as developer Daniels Real Estate brings its proposal up for early design guidance.

CHS reported in April on the Pratt project as the Central District cultural center that serves more than 4,000 art students a year marked its 40th anniversary by announcing the venture with Daniels Real Estate. The art center today has 19,000 square feet of studio space in its two existing buildings, which will remain open during the expansion. The expansion will grow the campus by adding 75% of the block between S Jackson and S Main and 19th and 20th Aves. Underground parking will have space for 100 cars. Continue reading

Rule #1: No ugly buildings — Capitol Hill design guidelines up for review

Boxy. Monotonous. Ugly. We’re not sure changing the process will change the results but the City of Seattle wants to hear from you at this Thursday’s open house on changes to the Capitol Hill Design Review Guidelines.

“It’s been ten years. A lot of development has happened since then. There has been a change in the urban fabric, and there has been a call from the community to review those guidelines and bring some fresh light into them,” said Patrice Carroll, a planner with the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD). “This is advice that the board gives to someone who is developing a project.”

Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Update Open House

The guidelines, which haven’t been updated since 2005, serve as a neighborhood-specific vetting framework for projects that go through the city’s broader design review process. These guidelines inform how design review boards evaluate the exterior aesthetic of proposed projects (the guidelines include metrics such as building materials and building shape). Continue reading