Design review: With ‘Aperture’ concept, plan for new Photographic Center Northwest building on 12th Ave includes 171 apartments

The public design process to create a new home for arts nonprofit Photographic Center Northwest in a new seven-story mixed-use development on the site of the center’s 100-year-old 12th Ave building begins this week.

The Central Area Design Review Board is set to take up the first design proposals for the Focus on 12th Apartments development Thursday night. Plans call for 171 apartment units above the new photography center and underground parking for around 42 vehicles.

Design review: 900 12th Ave
Design Review Early Design Guidance for a 7-story, 171-unit apartment building with institution (Photographic Center Northwest) and retail. Parking for 42 vehicles proposed. View Design Proposal  (26 MB)    

Review Meeting
September 22, 2022 5:00 PM


Listen Line: 206-207-1700 Passcode: 2484 459 1770
Comment Sign Up:
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3039185  View Related Records
Planner: David Sachs

Developer Vibrant Cities told CHS earlier this year it expects the new building to offer market rate housing along with Seattle Mandatory Housing Affordability and Multifamily Tax Exemption factors that could add a few affordable units to the mix. There is also a possibility of working with nearby Seattle University to offer school-affiliated housing. Continue reading

Stakeholder meetings to begin overhaul of Seattle’s design review process

The first in a series of meetings of a stakeholders group convened to produce recommendations for speeding up the process and addressing economic and equity issues in Seattle design review will take place Wednesday.

Organized by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections, the sessions will not be open to the public but will be recorded and made available by the city. You can also add your comments and feedback to the sessions planned to include architects, designers, and developers from across Seattle’s spectrum of market rate and affordable development as well as representatives from  SDCI and the Office of Planning and Community Development.

The city says the stakeholders group with SDCI, and OPCD will “conduct a Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) analysis of the city’s Design Review Program.

SDCI and OPCD have been tasked with providing a report to the Seattle City Council including the outcome of that analysis later this year. Continue reading

What Capitol Hill’s new eight-story, mass timber City Market building — with corrugated steel and Japanese climbing vines — will look like

(Image: Juno/Ennead Architects)

The eight-story, mass timber redevelopment of City Market will make a new home for the stalwart neighborhood grocer. It continues on its path through Seattle process this week with what could be the final design for the planned mixed-use project and new home for the longtime Capitol Hill grocery. The plan is slated to come before the East Design Review Board on Wednesday, February 23rd.

San Francisco-based property owner Juno has hired New York-based Ennead Architects to design the new building at the corner of E Olive Way and Bellevue. The existing City Market building, which dates to 1919 according to property tax records, will be demolished, along with its adjacent parking lot.

The new building will feature ground floor retail, topped with 98-residential units, including 58 studios, 21 “deep” one-bedrooms, 13 one-bedrooms and 5 two-bedrooms. The building will have the typical complement of amenities, including a rooftop deck. Continue reading

Bookkeeping | Spotting patterns — and shaping more equitable neighborhoods — at 12th Ave’s Schemata Workshop

Photos by Rod Huntress

By Kimberly Kinchen

From affordable housing at Cal Anderson-adjacent Station House to a Union Street pedestrian bridge on the Central Waterfront, designs from architecture studio Schemata Workshops are fixtures on the Hill and far beyond. Co-founder Grace Kim shared some favorite volumes with us for Bookkeeping, our occasional series on the books local businesses love so much they keep them in easy reach.

How does a book make it onto this shelf? Most of the books in the office are reference books. So books we’re using for precedents or looking at typologies — other built examples with similar characteristics — to see kind of what else people are thinking about. And sometimes it’s not even the same type, like we might be looking at a compact home, but we might look at libraries, and how they might use condensed storage. Sometimes we’re trying to capture look and feel. A lot of that we can do on the internet. So a lot of the books that are here are actually much, much older, just because they’re from a time when we couldn’t search those things on the internet. . . . I guess a big way these books show up is when we’re looking for more information than what you would find on the web. So we might be searching for high density housing in Europe and find one or two projects with just a picture or two. And so then trying to dive in a little deeper and understand the project, we might see if it’s published in a book somewhere. And that will lead to other similar projects. Then we can look at what’s happening outside our area. Continue reading

Street Critic | A second Capitol Hill-style classic car field report

(Image: John Feit)

Yes, cars are evil. Cars are wicked. But they are designed, and some (too few) are well-designed. And regardless of its conveyor, design matters, and some of the best talent over the last 100 years and more have designed cars (the poor souls). So, at the risk of offending many by lionizing automotive design, here is the second (occasional) installment of Capitol Hill’s Classic Rides.

There is something about the late 1960’s and 1970’s design that is both troubling and inspiring. Beginning to free itself of the constraints of Modernism, it was an era where doctrinaire design loosened, and a more personal expression was emerging. At the threshold of 1980’s post-Modernism, the 70’s have just a bit of that later era’s personal flair here and a little naughtiness there. But unlike the disaster that followed, design was still properly constrained. This awkward juxtaposition of opiating the masses with high-design ideals is well-captured in many of that era’s automobiles (think of the AMC Pacer) and coincided with the emergence of Japanese automotive design in the US. Still a relatively minor player at the beginning of the 70’s, the Japanese sought their own aesthetic, and the 70’s design free-for-all provided the perfect canvas to differentiate themselves in a market dominated by the Big Three.

This Toyota Corona is as good an example as one may find of this aesthetic. Continue reading

Buoyed by pro-housing support, 8-story 12th Ave development gets design board ‘OK’

Runberg Architecture Group’s design is a “go” on 12th Ave

The land is currently occupied by the former Car Tender auto shop, Bergman’s Lock and Key, and the old Scratch Deli building

Capitol Hill’s “most debated” new development can move forward to construction.

Wednesday night, facing a wave of support from pro-housing advocates and residents providing public comment, and despite concerns from representatives for neighborhood groups, the East Design Review Board gave its support to the plan for a new eight-story, 130+ unit mixed-use apartment building with an 83-car underground parking lot set to rise on the properties now home to a former auto garage and set of small businesses on 12th Ave at E Olive St. Continue reading

Street Critic | Our neighborhood series: Inform Interiors


Inform Interiors is located at 1526 Bellevue Ave. You can learn more at

The Street Critic is an occasional CHS special featuring architectural and design observations from the built environments on and around Capitol Hill. This special neighborhood series has been created to highlight features of some of the area’s most important gathering places as restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops face unprecedented challenges during the ongoing pandemic. Is there a space you would like us to feature? Let us know in the comments.


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Design review: First look at proposal for preservation incentive-boosted project that will rise above 110-year-old E Pike Rowland building

Wednesday night will bring two virtual design review meetings that could help set the course for new developments on Capitol Hill in 2021 including a project planned to preserve the E Pike facade of the 1910-built commercial building that has been home to Gay City and Kaladi Brothers as part of an eight-story, incentive boosted mixed-use project.

CHS reported on the early plans from developer Hunters Capital and longtime property owner Chip Ragen to redevelop the corner of E Pike and Belmont.

Wednesday night, the Studio Meng Strazzara-designed project will take its first step in front of the East Design review board. Continue reading

Street Critic | On 13th Ave, Onion Dome mysteries revealed

13th Ave’s St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Image: John Feit)

Regardless of how modest the structure, ecclesiastical architecture has a unique expressive ability. No better example of simple forms melded with powerful symbolism exists on Capitol Hill than St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, on 13th Ave between Howell and Olive. The simplest of brick boxes, the church relies on exotic details and forms to announce its Orthodox beliefs, setting it apart from all other churches in the neighborhood. Continue reading

Design review: Board asks for better greenbelt connection in Lakeview slope condo development

A condominium development proposed for the literal edge of Capitol Hill’s westernmost slope will return this week for a second round in the early phase of the city’s design review process.

The virtual design review session will look at the latest plans for 1578 Lakeview Blvd E — a planned six-story, 40-unit development along Lakeview Blvd E that is also envisioned as a way to hold back at least one small stretch of the eroding, crumbling slopes of Capitol Hill’s western edge above I-5. Continue reading