Street Critic: Eastlake’s Mid-Century Masterworks

The Eastlake neighborhood is only five blocks west of Volunteer Park but its even closer proximity to Lake Union makes it a neighborhood quite different than Capitol Hill. Highlighting this difference are buildings representative of Eastlake’s commercial and maritime heritage which range from small, jewel-box like office buildings to large industrial structures.

Eastlake engages Lake Union in a variety of ways including seven ‘streetend parks’, such as Lynn Street Park. The streetends give one a chance to launch a Kayak, play catch with your dog, or simply to watch boats and seaplanes skim the lake’s surface. Some folks are so captivated by such water-borne activities that they have decided to live on the water, making Eastlake’s houseboat community the largest in Seattle.

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Street Critic | 17th Ave is as good as it gets

The Barbara Frietchie

The Barbara Frietchie

Great urban landscapes are typically comprised of a collection of good buildings and landscapes instead of superlative singular designs. 17th Ave, between E. Union and E. Spring, is just such a landscape and warrants a visit. On this stretch of 17th, one will find a half dozen apartment buildings which individually may stir only a passing (if admiring) glance, yet as an ensemble are a gift to behold. Many of the buildings were built (and perhaps designed?) by the same developer, Samuel Anderson, in the 1920s.

The most conspicuous of the apartments, owing both to its advantageous corner location at the intersection of 17th and E Spring and to its equally proud corner entry, is The Barbara Frietchie. It is one of the very few co-ops in Seattle. More common in New York City, co-ops were a form of apartment ownership that pre-dates condominiums. Perhaps its New York roots account for its being the most visible – ostentatious, even – of the bunch? Its unique quarter-round entry portico set in a subtractive corner is another feature that hints of its big-city aspirations. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

Developer says auto row-inspired design for 15th Ave E project rejected for not being modern enough

The developer behind a 15th Ave E project set to rise above the corner long home to the Hilltop Service Station is questioning a city board’s decision to reject its design proposal for the planned brick, concrete, and metal five-story building inspired by auto row-era preservation elsewhere on the Hill.

“Through deliberations the theme of the board was to get the applicant to create a more modern and contemporary design and come back to present again,” Michael Oaksmith of Capitol Hill-based real estate and development firm Hunters Capital tells CHS. “There were several other small items to be worked on, but a more ‘contemporary’ design was clearly the deciding factor for rejection.”

Oaksmith says he and Hunters respect the board and its volunteer members but feel that any push for a more modern design is beyond the scope of the design review process. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Street Critic | St. Joseph’s art deco mastery

(Images: John Feit)

Few building typologies have the history or endurance of the basilica. First appearing about the 2nd Century BCE, the basilica evolved from its initial, secular roots as a building housing courts and other civic functions to the archetypal building form for Christian houses of worship. Capitol Hill’s own St. Joseph’s church, at 19th Avenue and Aloha Street, is both an outstanding example of the basilica typology as well as of art deco architecture. Continue reading

Central Area design board takes up 500 Broadway microhousing+hotel project

Two projects set to come before the Central District’s design review board will add new housing neighboring the Liberty Bank Building and create an intriguing mix of hotel and apartment units on Broadway near Seattle U.

Thursday night’s session of the Central Area Design Review Board takes place at Washington Hall:

Central District Design Reviews | 500 Broadway and 1419 24th Ave

500 Broadway
The first project on the night’s roster is up for what could be its final pass in front of the board. Anew Apartments is the developer on the Neiman Taber Architects-designed project to create an eight-story hotel building with “91 sleeping rooms for congregate residences” and retail on Broadway between Jefferson and James. Continue reading

Eight-story apartment building set to rise across from Broadway Hill Park

Capitol Hill has seen eight-story apartment buildings spring up before but a planned development kitty corner to Broadway Hill Park will need a little extra push to rise on the edges of the dense Broadway corridor where the blocks remain a mix of larger old apartment buildings, duplexes, and single family homes.

Thursday, developers from Sealevel Properties will hold a community outreach meeting at the Century Ballroom to talk with neighbors about their plans for the eight-story apartment building with 150 or so units, and three parking spots planned to rise at the corner of Federal and Republican: Continue reading

Street Critic | The Diabolical Diagonal — the architecture of the angled streets that climb Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill streets and building parcels are almost uniformly delineated by an orthogonal grid; however, when confronted with the second part of our neighborhood’s name the ubiquitous grid revealed its limitation as an all-inclusive planning tool and left city planners little choice but to utilize diagonal streets to ascend and descend our heights. Diagonal streets present a foil to the well-ordered grid, yet most buildings conform to the grid even when the site is an unconventional shape. There are reasons to stay square when designing a building, but design opportunities are sacrificed when the only nod given to an atypical, non-orthogonal site is to design an orthogonal building and treat its diagonally bounded site simply as a remainder to be ‘planted-up’.

The Hill’s longest and steepest diagonal street, Belmont Avenue, exhibits a variety of design solutions to the grid’s disruptive diagonal. The first approach, illustrated in two variants below, plays to both diagonal and grid in a manner that preserves the conflicting geometries. The third solution is a rarely seen hybrid approach where the geometries of grid and diagonal are blended and create unexpectedly complex forms. which gave us a pair of delightful mid-century apartments. Continue reading

What the Capitol Hill auto row-inspired project planned to replace Hilltop Service Station will look like

The concept for the 523 Hilltop project (Images: Studio Meng Strazzara)

The last time this Capitol Hill developer and the architects from Studio Meng Strazzara hooked up, they created an eight-story project designed to set the standard for Pike/Pine preservation and redevelopment. On 15th Ave E, Hunters Capital won’t leave any motor car history to work with as it prepares to demolish the Hilltop Service Station and continue the work to slowly repair the soils beneath from decades of contamination — but the proposed design for its coming 523 Hilltop building is inspired by Capitol Hill’s auto row past.

Design review: 523 15th Ave E

The Hunters Capital project takes its first pass by the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. Continue reading

‘New buildings should support and enhance places as they grow’ — Seattle to set new guidelines for Capitol Hill development

The Seattle City Council is poised to approve a new set of guidelines that will shape what Capitol Hill looks like in years to come.

The Capitol Hill Neighborhood Design Guidelines are essentially recommendations to developers of what neighborhood residents would like to see in new buildings. The neighborhood-specific guidelines were adopted in 2005. The update began in 2017, and was undertaken by city staff in conjunction with a 14-member working group of residents and representatives of various groups around the hill.

A draft was printed in May 2018. But the update was shifted to the back burner as the city wrestled with adopting the Mandatory Affordable Housing program. A new draft was released in January of this year.

Monday afternoon, the full council is prepared to approved the update. Continue reading