This project at 3825 Bridge Way N seeks to be first multifamily project to meet new Living Building standard. (Public47 Architects)

The Northeast Design Review Board is about to take a look at a proposal at 3825 Bridge Way N that aims to be the first multifamily building to qualify for Seattle’s about-to-be-updated Living Building Pilot standard. Meeting the Living Building standard would allow the project additional height and floor area ration (FAR) letting it reach five stories and 40 apartments (versus 36, 31 or 32 in other four-story options).

One way Public47 Architects aims to meet the standard is with an extensive integrated photo-voltaic array on the green roof that would meet energy needs on-site. Here are the green targets for the project’s Living Building option:

  • Reduce total energy usage by 25% with a high performance thermal envelope
  • Produce 105% of the energy used on-site
  • Reduce water usage by 75%
  • Capture and use at least 50% of the stormwater on site

The proposal acknowledges time will be a factor: “Pursuing the Living Building Pilot standard is contingent on the new legislation being approved by City Council in time for application of the project, if not forthcoming, the project will target Built 5 star standards.” That would entail fewer units due to lost incentives. For more on the pilot update see the Director’s Report.

The site is halfway between Stone Way and Aurora Avenue.
The site is halfway between Stone Way and Aurora Avenue. (Public47 Architects)

The building would rise out of a skinny triangular plot along the diagonal glorified SR-99 on-ramp that is Bridge Way in East Fremont, which is pushing into Wallingford, some would say Frelingford. The design alludes to the City’s plans to turn Woodland Park Avenue, which borders the site to the east, to a neighborhood greenway. A properly executed greenway would be a huge upgrade for the bumpy deteriorating street. Key to the greenway’s success will be the intersection of Bridge Way N and Woodland Park Ave, which is very dangerous and in need of traffic signals to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross in a timely fashion. Diverters will also be key to reduce auto traffic. Otherwise the deference the proposal makes for the neighborhood greenway plan is based on a mirage.

A now-closed martial arts studio currently occupies the site. (Public47 Architects)
The site as it looks today. (Public47 Architects)
Early design rendering indicate balconies and creepy silhouttes. (Public47)
Early design rendering indicate balconies and creepy silhouettes. (Public47 Architects)

The site is well covered by transit (if prone to overcrowding and delay issues at peak). The 26 picks up just outside the future building and higher frequency service is available at the busy bus stop at the Aurora on-ramp where the 28, 26 and 5 all pick up on their way downtown. The fairly frequent but meandering 62 runs on Stone Way to the east. Metro Transit could also tie the neighborhood into the RapidRide system with the engineering of an 38th Street E Station like many including yours truly have pleaded. It would make a lot of sense!

The project’s site is occupied by a defunct strip-mall-style branch of a psychiatric clinic. A highly sustainable, environmentally conscious apartment building would contribute something to the neighborhood both in intensity of use and in architectural elegance.

The proposal’s first early design guidance meeting is tonight at 8pm in Room 202 of the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Ave N). Garry Papers is the Seattle Department of Planning and Development planner assigned to the project, and he can be reached at

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.