103 Pike St 14-story hotel. (Ankrom Moison Architects)

The Downtown Design Review Board will take its first look at a design proposal for a 14-story hotel at 103 Pike St on Tuesday, October 3rd. Across from Seattle’s premier tourist destination which attracts more than 10 million visitors per year, the project aims to connect with Pike Place Market through high-quality pedestrian amenities. The developer promises to attract a boutique hotel operator to create a “small destination hotel” that becomes a “landmark for the city” with a rooftop bar activating the neighborhood late into the night and offering stunning views. Ankrom Moison is the architecture firm tasked with achieving that vision.

Tuesday night we will find out if the review board thinks architects are on the right track in early designs. The architects’ preferred plan is a pivot concept that would skew the tower slightly off the street grid, which they argue would activate the southwest corner and provide visual interest from First Avenue. The preferred scheme would include 121 hotel units, five residential units, and about 7,200 square feet of commercial space–slightly less total square footage than the other two options presented.

The PIvot would swing the hotel section off the retail base. (Ankrom Moison Architects)

The 14-story tower would max out allowed buildable height for the parcel’s DMC-145 zoning, which has a base floor area ratio of 5.0, maxing out at 8.0 with incentives. Just to the north and east, the zoning jumps as high as 440 feet with DMC-440, but the block adjacent the market is zoned less high, likely in deference to the bustling relatively low-slung public market.

Many nearby buildings are much taller. For example, the 2nd and Pine project under construction two blocks north is 400 feet. (Ankrom Moison Architects)

The existing building occupying the site is three stories tall and hosts a handful of businesses including Seattle Coffee Works, Seattle Shirt Company, Pho Mililani, a smoke shop, and the Green Tortoise Hostel.

Existing building from Pike Place pedestrian scramble. (Google Maps)

In addition to boasting a prime location for people walking, the site is near the Westlake Center light rail station and will soon be adjacent to a streetcar stop when the Center City Connector opens, which is anticipated in 2020. Downtown’s premier protected bike route in Second Avenue is just a block north. Given the wealth of options, the project proposes no parking.

Transportation access with circle showing a rough five-minute walkshed. (Ankrom Moison Architects)

Architects hope to echo the spirit of Pike Place Market with their two floors of retail and their design choices with similar steel and glass touches proposed. The existing building scores relatively well on the Jan Gehl door index with five along its small street frontage, so hopefully that important aspect carries over as well. Architects do envision more transparency than the obscured windows of T-shirt company, smoke shop, and pho restaurant currently provide.

Design cues are taken from Pike Place Market. (Moison Ankrom Architects)

The design review meeting is at 7pm tomorrow (Tuesday, October 3rd) at Seattle City Hall Room L280 and includes a chance for brief public testimony.

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Doug Trumm is the executive director 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. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.