Location:  Capitol Hill - Seattle, Washington
Type:  Commercial

This 21,068-square-foot project involved the adaptive reuse of a collection of one- and two-story historic auto row structures built between 1919 and 1926. Located on a triangular block in Seattle's densely populated Capitol Hill neighborhood, the project provided the opportunity to breath new life into the underutilized structures and into the immediate neighborhood. Working with the client, a set of goals were established for the project: preserve and highlight the historic character of the structures; incorporate sustainable, repurposed materials wherever possible; bring back the transparency of the original building to maximize natural light; and find ways to engage and interact with the streetscape and pedestrian traffic. 

To accomplish this, the auto row style was embraced and reinforced by maintaining the building’s exterior design, and, after stripping away previous alterations, revealing the exposed brick and old-growth heavy timbers and flooring on the interior. Renovated and restored storefronts enhance building transparency helps to activate the streetscape from within. Running the length of the market is the original hanging mezzanine. Reinforced with new columns, it provides storage and office areas. The steeply sloped site results in a one-story building on the primary street side, while the secondary street features a two-story facade. The lower level features an large event space and a speakeasy-style bar. New stairs were inserted for vertical circulation, which also serve double duty as light wells, bringing daylight into spaces below the main floor.

The market space, which occupies the middle of the block, anchors the concept. Pedestrians are encouraged to move through the building’s interior as a continuation of the exterior sidewalk. In good weather, sliding doors open to erase the barrier between inside and outside: tables inside merge with sidewalk seating. Twelve tenant spaces were created within the overall volume, with sizes ranging from 300 to 5,225-square feet. Tenants include award-winning restaurants as well as a flower and produce stand to local vendors providing sus­tainably-sourced products. Custom designed and fabricated furnishings, built from reclaimed materials, complement the setting. To enliven the streetscape, planters march along the facade and sidewalk adding greenery to the formerly tough industrial sidewalk. Working with a bike-friendly city program, a large on-street bike rack encourages alternative transportation methods. Rooftop dining at the point of the triangle adds yet another opportunity to experience the neighborhood and downtown from a different perspective.

Photography:  David Delfs, Graham Baba Architects

Preservation Award, Preserving Neighborhood Character