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Proposal for First Hill mass timber high-rise seeks to reach even higher

An artful rendering of things to come above First Hill (Image: Clark Barnes)

An artful rendering of things to come above First Hill (Image: Clark Barnes)

The COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic fallout could snuff Seattle’s latest development boom. Or the change might be more complicated and less predictable.

One of the more interesting projects in motion before the crisis is readying to return to the public development process with a plan that has grown in scale despite the uncertainty.

Developer Pryde Development and the architects at Clark Barnes have revised plans for a “mass timber” high-rise planned for First Hill to grow the design to 18 stories — adding six more floors to an already ambitious project.

“The project has elected to proceed with an 18 story, Type IV-A construction type,” the developers write in their updated proposal for the planned development that will replace a one-story 1949-built dental office on Seneca. “The structure will be mass timber, which requires a modular, gridded structural system,” they write. “The wood structure must be fully protected (covered) with gypsum wall board, therefore CLT wood veneer will be used as an interior expression of the wood material.”

The extra floors will bring more housing. The building is being planned with a mix of 68 small efficiency dwelling units and 67 market-rate apartment units). There is no parking proposed.

Comments on the revised land use proposal are being accepted through Monday (May 11th). You can email PRC@seattle.gov and reference project Number: 3034443-LU.

At 18 stories, the project could create Seattle’s tallest “mass timber” building. Thanks to changes in the state building code, mass timber cross-laminated wood buildings up to 18 stories can be built in Washington. Seattle is seen as an ideal market for the building type that is incredibly strong, requires less energy to produce, and has been hyped as potentially speeding up construction thanks to prefabrication.

The 1422 Seneca project started the design review process last year but will now face a restructured public process. During the ongoing restrictions from the COVID-19 outbreak, design review has been transitioned to an “administrative review” process with no in person meetings and community feedback provided by email to help keep projects moving during the crisis.

The review of the 1422 Seneca project’s new design proposals hasn’t yet been scheduled. The next review in the Capitol Hill area comes later this month when city staff will be considering a revised proposal — and community feedback — for a portion of the development set to surround the Knights of Columbus building. If you’re looking for a trend, the Harvard Ave project shares at least one commonality with the new proposal on Seneca — it, too, is coming back to the review process with a proposal for a taller building with more units.


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14 thoughts on “Proposal for First Hill mass timber high-rise seeks to reach even higher” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Whether it’s 12 stories or 18 stories I will lose a significant portion of my view. That’s the way things go and it’s not what I’m concerned with. Even with Luna at 23-ish stories makes sense, but 18 stories on that gore makes no frigging sense. Everything north of Seneca and NE from Seneca and Boylston steps down a bit to glide into the limited height of Pike St.

    I also thought the zoning for high rise stopped halfway up the block from Boylston.

      • You think I’m nimby? Whatever. I guess asking questions is not okay and warrants an ad hominem attack.

        Whether it’s 12 or 18 stories has the same effect on my “back yard”. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning and affects of zoning. I’m pro density, but I’m not pro-any-damn-thing-a-developer-wants-to build, isn’t that why we review plans to begin with? It feels out of place and overwhelming in that spot. If you look at 1100 Boylston on the parking lot next to the Baptist church, it’s keeping it to 8 stories. Its confusing why they don’t go higher there, other than being “neighborly”. I’m just trying to understand how it seems to make sense to consider the historical building next door there, but directly across the street it doesn’t. It will be a truly looming presence for anyone coming up Union fromBbroadway.

        Now, if we can just get the design to allow the Maximillian to move its bins to the east side of their building to get its trash out of the alley…

    • What I can’t make sense of is:
      “Even with Luna at 23-ish stories makes sense, but 18 stories on that gore makes no frigging sense.”

      • Probably because the 23 story building doesn’t block his lovely view. But this new 18 story “gore” sure will block his beloved view. Makes no sense, why would they build a building and block HIS view. dang man.

      • Well, it’s where it is, and my understanding of stepping down towards Pike. Luma is further away from that.

        Again, for the record, the 12 stories will block my view. So 12 or 18 stories makes no difference on that point.

      • Yes, the Danforth is a looming presence, but it’s location Is closer to the hospitals and further from the Pike/Pine corridor which removes it from my question. It’s not right up against things like the Baptist Church, or Old Firehouse 25 condos, or the Union Manor/Union Arms apartments. The Point Apartments at UUB across the street from those older apartments is only 8 stories.

        At the heart of what I am asking is if Seattle takes into consideration a gradual step down between a zone that allow differing heights. Pike is limited to what, 5 or 6 over 2?

        If Seattle does not attempt to step down gradually between zones, then fine, I’ve learned my assumption is wrong. If it is standard procedure to step down more gracefully between zones, then my question is valid.

        It’s a shame I come here to understand the reasoning by asking questions, and what I mostly get is insults. It’s sad, especially as someone who, tries to be a yimby or at least not a nimby, to feel needlessly attacked by folks with whom we’d have more to agree on than disagree on.

    • Yep! Absolute shit! :) Have fun hearing your neighbors stomping all over the place for all 18 floors. Wood frame construction is absolutely inferior to concrete when it comes to impact insulation. As far as sound insulation you can be ok with 2 x 2 double stud walls side but you will not get the impact insulation of concrete unless you take the wood frame floor assemblies and add jack up floors with 10mm rubber and 2″ concrete on the top… which kind of defeats the purpose of the wood frame construction and likely ends up being more expensive.

      • I’ve always been told concrete doesn’t really do all that great a job a IIC, not sure where you go that.

        Yes, there’s an issue of whether or not to put concrete on top, which adds cost and CO2, but overall wood framed construction is way better for the environment overall. Much less embodied energy so it’s not really about saving costs so much as it is saving the enviornment.

  2. Well, anonymous architect, leave the acoustics up to your acousticians. When is the last time you’ve had a bare concrete installation in a high rise with no finish floor? I’ve literally never seen this condition. If you talk strictly bare concrete vs. bare wood, yes, wood is better, because it is resilient. Add an underlayment and it’s a completely different story – that resilient nature of wood now works against it. Look at a cut sheet for any underlayment material and the difference in IIC will be 15 to 20 points for concrete vs wood, or they will leave out wood completely.

    I made it easy for you –
    http://pliteq.com/downloads/geniemat-ff/GenieMat%20FF%20Brochure.pdf

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