127-unit apartment building planned for Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood

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By Catherine Sweeney

A 127-unit apartment building project is nearing completion, following a meeting Monday evening with the city’s design review board. During the meeting, developer Canal West presented early plans for a planned project in the Ballard area of ​​the city, eventually receiving council approval to proceed with a recommendation hearing.

The project would be located at 5206 17th Avenue and is designed by Caron Architecture. Overall, the completed development would reach seven stories and total 97,642 square feet. In addition, the project is expected to include 30 vehicle parking spaces and 5,000 square feet of amenity space.

The project site consists of three parcels bounded by 17th Avenue NW to the west, 52nd and 53rd streets to the north and south. Several low and medium-rise buildings also line the site.

During the meeting, the design team presented three massing options for the building, ultimately landing on the “vertical” massing design. In the preferred design scheme, the mass of the building is ventilated by vertical recesses. As part of this design, balconies will be used to provide additional horizontal detail to the predominantly vertical approach with units facing the street on three sides. Two upper-level terraces in opposite corners of the building would also help further break down the massing.

“Our preferred scheme is again what I would call the most traditional, responding to the character of the buildings constructed in Ballard with the vertical elements emphasizing the modulation of the residential units and the main lobby on 52nd Street with services and with a focus on the corner,” Radim Blazej, CEO and Founder of Caron Architecture, said.

Other design options explored by the design team included a “rectangular” mass scheme and an “angled” scheme. According to the design proposal, the “Rectangular” option offers a streamlined approach with a straight shape and minimal articulation. In this design scheme, units would be located to the east and west of the building and a terrace on the upper level would face west.

The “angular” approach, on the other hand, would include an angular façade with units facing all sides of the building. This option also includes a triangular rooftop deck set back into the building to further break down the mass while providing views of Puget Sound.

Along with the preferred massing scheme, the project also aims to provide a strong pedestrian presence with an easily accessible entrance. An expanded plaza and landscaping are also intended to make the exterior of the building more welcoming.

Additionally, layered landscaping buffers will be used to provide a more seamless transition between public and private tenant space. Setbacks along 17th Avenue NW are also designed to be taller to add to the busier character of the street, while residential units are adjusted vertically to maintain a sense of security and avoid mixing public and private spaces.

“We will provide extensive landscaping to protect the building from neighbors to the east and will also provide transitional landscaping and patio plantings along the sidewalks on all four sides,” Blazej said.

Overall, the board recommended that the design team move forward in the eligibility process with the “vertical” design approach. However, in doing so, the council also offered guidance to the project team on how they can strengthen the design.

The council noted several concerns about the height of the terraces along 17th Avenue, noting that the project team should consider a more refined approach to the area. Additionally, the council suggested the team reconsider the massing at the southwest corner of the building, noting that the current design looks compressed. The council also suggested that the street-level corner of 17th Avenue be more engaging to balance out the other busier parts of the building.

When moving to other stages of the design review process, the council also suggested having clear ideas about building colors and materials.

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