Design change for the Hotel Clare site, courtesy of DPD.
Plans for the Hotel Clare site are getting a big makeover. Located on the corner of Second Avenue and Virginia Street, the project is getting scaled back from a 39-story residential and hotel tower to a now-proposed 17-story hotel. For the beloved Terminal Sales Annex Building that currently sits on the planned site, the project redesign could be an improvement. Ankrom Moisan Architects are leading the project design for Columbia West Properties, Inc, who hope to create a new luxury hotel for Downtown Seattle.
Previously, the applicants had received approval for the construction of a tower with 190 residential units and 154 hotel rooms. The 537,500 square-foot building would also have included 6,431 square feet of ground floor retail and 288 parking stalls. But the project revision will eliminate all residential units and instead develop 208 luxury hotel rooms with 68 parking stall (58 for cars, 10 for bikes) in a 140,500 square foot building. Ground floor retail will be comprised of 4,609 square feet.
The Hotel Clare proposal, courtesy of DPD.
The Project Proposal
Standing at 17 stories tall, the building will gracefully mix new and old into the project design–just as the architects intended. Steve Jones, Senior Architect of Ankrom Moisan, shared the overarching objectives for the project:
Hotel Clare is designed to highlight the Terminal Sales Annex Building. The landmark has long been an important element of the neighborhood and we want to respect that history while designing a new 208 guest room hotel on the site. We intentionally placed the guestroom tower to provide space and air to the neighboring buildings while allowing the Terminal Sales Annex to stand proud along Second Avenue. The tower placement preserves views from the apartments in the new Viktoria building, and provides a good separation between offices in the Terminal Sales Building and the new hotel guest rooms.
In addition to highlighting the site’s landmark, our client’s goals are to create a unique destination, minimize traffic impacts and to be a good neighbor along this stretch of Second Avenue. In collaboration with our client, we have designed a plaza with enhanced landscaping at the corner of Second and Virginia. This plaza provides a bit of open space for the public and emphasizes the Terminal Sales Annex’s history of being a sentinel on the street.
From the beginning of the project, the design intent has been to provide a backdrop to the landmark. The strong framing element reinforces the proposed tower’s east/west orientation where the majority of the views are.
As should be apparent–and in keeping with the project goals–much of the landmark structure will be retained and incorporated into the overall tower structure. On the ground floor, some podium elements will be located immediately adjacent to the Terminal Sales Annex Building, as well as a lobby entrance and porte cochere for hotel guests.
The podium elements will be distinct from the hotel tower and landmark building. The Second Avenue podium structure will be broken in two parts. The southern portion will appear partially as a one-story retail space up to the street front while the second will be recessed to give depth. A black overhang will cover the recessed space and cap the window at a prominent height while forming a portion of the southern column wall. It will also match the the tower’s black detailing. Meanwhile, the north portion of the podium will be two stories tall with ground floor retail and second story internal uses. In contrast to the southern portion, the north will feel of a smaller scale and flush with the landmark building using light limestone finishes.
The Virginia Street and alleyway side of Hotel Clare, courtesy of DPD.
The tower itself will be significantly set back from Second Avenue to reduce the feel of a such a long rectangular structure and give due respect to the landmark building. The facade will be a mix of glass and metal, but the architects have decided to add variation by using different types of glass and by offsetting window panes. Ultimately, these variations are meant to help create a more vertical feeling for the building to visually draw people’s eyes upward. A minor recess will be present on the top-most floors in the northeast corner. Additionally, the black column theme will come into play on the south side of the building, and continue across the roofline.
The Virginia Street and alleyway sides of Hotel Clare will be a bit more playful. Cantilevered angles will project along the alleyway while dark metal paneling will cover a large square area of the facade. In futuristic fashion, the elevator shaft will be pushed to the outside of the building. In this space, the cylindric elevator will run up and down for hotel guests and staff. As Jones notes, this will provide “a 2-stop, exterior express elevator [to take] guests from a street level lobby up to the upper floors. This allows the guests to experience amazing views of the Sound, Waterfront, and our skyline. This design element will help activate the skyline in the neighborhood.” Meanwhile, the porte cochere will dominate the lower portion of the structure. Built for cars, the space will serve as the place to drop off and pick up hotel guests. Vehicles will enter the porte cochere from Virginia and then exit through the alleyway back to the street. Garage access will also be available from this point.
Plaza area of Hotel Clare, courtesy of DPD.
While not very visible in most of the renderings, the architects plan to add some green life to the building. A landscaped plaza space will be located on the corner of Second and Virginia, which will include some seating for passersby and guests. The space isn’t large, probably no more than 200 square feet. Other landscaping will be provided in the form of streetscape and street tree improvements, as well as terraced landscaping near the base of the elevator shaft base. In between the elevator base and corner plaza will be the main lobby entrance for the Hotel Clare tower.
The project applicants have requested two departures from standard code, one minor and a second of larger significance. The minor request calls for intermittent breaks in overhead weather protection on Second Avenue. As in many newer buildings, the architects hope that small, stylized breaks between the glass canopy covers will be allowed in order to create a rhythm to them. The requirement for continuous overhead weather protection only applies to Second Avenue, where the podium structure won’t be set back from the street.
The more significant request for departure from code is to increase the area of building setbacks. Along Second Avenue, upper floor setbacks would be present in the podium structure and north of the landmark building. The land use code allows for up to 40% of the facade area between 15′ and 35′ above the sidewalk grade to be set back. The applicants propose 44%, but argue that the this will greatly increase the stature of the landmark building, even highlighting it by design.
The Past Lives On
Terminal Sales Annex Building and its smaller neighbor, courtesy of Google Streetview.
A prominent feature of both the previous plans and the revised version is the historic Terminal Sales Annex Building. This building is a protected structure and located in the mid-block portion of the planned redevelopment. Originally opened in 1916, the building was first home to the Puget Sound News Company. By the 1940s, the building was “annexed” by the adjacent Terminal Sales Building, a sales and display center for distributors serving large, local department stores.
To link the buildings together, the property owners decided to physically connect them together via a skybridge (which has since been removed). Besides this historical connection, the building is of significant note because of its exemplar local style of Collegiate Gothic Revival using granite and glazed terracotta materials on the facade. The exterior details are very linear and ornate with raised parapet to the set the structure off.
The two structures to be removed, courtesy of Google Streetview.
The Terminal Sales Annex Building’s two neighbors to the south are not as lucky. These buildings will be demolished to make way for Hotel Clare’s brand new podium retail uses. The southernmost structure slated for demolition is a 4-story reinforced concrete structure built in 1911 that once served as an office building. The smaller building to the north is a single-story retail space. It followed the other two buildings onto the block in 1917. While new can be good, it’s always worthwhile remembering what came before, too.
How To Get Involved
If you’re interested in attending the community design review meeting for this project, you can do so tonight. The Downtown Design Review Board will meet at City Hall in Room L280, located at 600 Fifth Avenue. The design review meeting begin promptly at 5.30pm. Alternatively, if you wish submit comments in written form, you can do so by e-mailing Beth Hartwick, Project Planner, at Beth.Hartwick@seattle.gov and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) at PRC@seattle.gov.
For more design review materials and upcoming meetings, see DPD’s design review page.