Seattle is in desperate need of affordable housing units large enough to accommodate families. To help alleviate this demand, University Christian Church and Bellwether Housing have teamed up to develop an energy efficient affordable housing community with 40% of the units designed with two or three bedrooms for families.
Located near Seattle’s University of Washington, the project will be integrated delicately into the surrounding context. Programmatic elements include corner retail for shops and non-profit social service agencies, public and resident parking, grade-level residential flats and a lush streetscape.
Close attention has been paid to the pedestrian experience on all sides of the building, featuring a recessed main residential entry aligned with the UCC landmark tower near the corner of 15th Ave NE and NE 50th Street. Breaking up the size of the building along 15th Avenue the playful, transparent entry element reaches from the roof to the ground and creates a sense of arrival and feeling of safety.
A sense of home, safety and stability will permeate the building in small and large ways. A courtyard for kids will be elevated off the alley, bounded by flanking family units, and will center around a significant tree that will be preserved on the site. An artful entry ‘legacy’ panel will welcome residents and tell the story of the building and unique partnership that made it possible. Wood-like slats and other natural durable materials will be used to create a long-lasting, durable building. The ground floor residential flats along 15th Ave. will be pulled back from the street to create a vibrant pedestrian-scaled environment. Through the use of landscape, entry canopies, patio screens and public and private benches, the streetscape will balance both public and private realms.
An innovative affordable housing developer, Bellwether Housing challenged the design team and contractor with a unique building systems analysis design process. More efficient buildings result in lower operational costs and are more appealing as long-term assets. Following an assessment of existing properties in their portfolio, including recent LEED certified buildings, the team identified building systems and set target metrics. These metrics were divided into three different courses of action taking into account performance modeling as well as pricing; ranging from a base level of code compliance to the highest targets based on Passive House standards. Following the analysis the project team easily identified the highest and best performing systems to integrate into the building design helping Bellwether better plan for long term operational expenses.