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My first design review board experience

By January 10, 2008


Curious about design reviews I decide to go to the 1210 11th Ave Early Design Guidance meeting tonight. I picked this project because it is very likely going to impact my view of downtown and if I’m going to have to listen to it buying built and stare it, it better be nice! As I stood outside #3211 at SCC wondering why the room was dark, Lisa from the city showed up and told me it was canceled. Turns out the architect threw their back out.

Fortunately there was a meeting later in the night for 1205 E Pine, commonly known as the Foley Sign building at the corner of 12th and Pine. Unfortunately I had hockey game in Renton (we won) so I only caught the first hour.

In attendance was the board, the architect and his crew, the developer, a neighboring business owner (someone from The Cuff because apparently there are noise concerns), what appeared to be three citizens and myself.

The first half hour of the meeting Steve Johnson, the architect from Johnson Architecture (Johnson Architecture also did Monique Lofts and Trace Lofts both re-use projects on Capitol Hill), recapped the previous presentation and then addressed the board’s concerns and introduced some new designs. I was very surprised at how low tech the presentation was. I was expecting PowerPoint but it was all big poster boards like a high school science project. I was pleased with the designs he presented. I was fearing that the three additional stories on the old building wouldn’t look well integrated but it really does look good with the top three floors feature floor to ceiling aluminum clad wood windows, the residential entrance will be recessed with green walls, there’s a green roof top deck, and they’ll be adding more trees to the sidewalk.

I probably only caught 75% of the board’s questions to the architect and developer. The questions centered around the south wall (they were concerned that the lower level would be new but I was wondering why no windows?), the color of the old and the new portions, why aren’t they pursuing green certification (developer feels LEED is geared towards commercial and the LEED program for residential isn’t out yet), etc. Not having been to the Early Design Guidance meeting I don’t know what was asked before but I felt the board was really grasping for good questions. It reminded me of those awkward moments in school where you ask a question only so that your name gets written down on the list of students who asked questions that day.

Sadly I had to leave before the public was allowed to ask questions and the subsequent board deliberation.

The juicy gossip revealed is that the developer is in discussions with a Belltown restaurant who is looking at relocating and would take up most of the retail level space. Who could it be?

I’ll try to go to more of these in the future and will keep my eye on the upcoming project reviews for interesting downtown condo ones. If you go to any I’d be happy to post any recaps here or link to them on your blog because it seems like public attendance is low but by blogging about it we’ll likely involve more people in what’s going on.

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