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Design Review

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The People's Choice Award is your chance to reflect on design and development and explore what constitutes an exemplary Design Review Project.

2015 People's Choice Urban Design Awards

In September 2015, we participated in the Seattle Design Festival and launched The People's Choice Awards in Urban Design Excellence. The objectives for hosting the People’s Choice Urban Design Awards were threefold:

  • To dialogue with the public about urban design issues and considerations
  • To promote public involvement in and understanding of the Design Review Program in Seattle
  • To engage the public by encouraging people to vote on the finalist projects which they feel best exhibit urban design excellence
Urban Design Awards Booklet

Before voting, we asked the public to consider key principles of urban design as criteria to evaluate the projects. We also believe it is important to recognize and praise the many architects and developers that are going through the design review process and doing great work in our communities!

Our Design Review Program staff started with a list of 160 Design Review projects that were completed over the past three years. We sorted projects into three categories: highrise, midrise, and lowrise. We then went through several selection rounds to identify exemplary projects, based on the Council-adopted Design Guidelines. We developed a short list of approximately 80 projects and a final list of 9 projects per category.

We then asked people to reflect on design and development in Seattle and explore what constitutes an exemplary Design Review Project. We invited everyone to vote for the project in each category that they felt demonstrated design excellence. People voted at the 2015 Seattle Design Festival and via an online survey.

We were very excited to receive over 1,400 votes in the People’s Choice competition, and we are pleased to announce the winning buildings.

Lowrise Category

  • 1st Place –Belroy Court at 711 Bellevue Ave East by Weinstein A+U
  • 2nd Place –Anhalt Landmark Apartments at 1600 East John Street by Public 47 Architects
  • 3rd Place – 109 12th Ave East by Elemental Architecture

Midrise Category

  • 1st Place – 47+7 at 4558 7th Ave NE by CollinsWoerman
  • 2nd Place – 12th Avenue Arts at 1620 12th Ave by SMR Architects
  • 3rd Place – Chophouse Row at 1424 11th Ave by Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects

Highrise Category

  • 1st Place – The Post at 888 Western Ave by VIA Architects
  • 2nd Place – Cielo at 802 Seneca Street by Kwan Hemni Architecture
  • 3rd Place – 400 Fairview by SKB Architects

What is Urban Design?

Urban Design is the careful and conscious design of our buildings, public spaces, and landscape, and how these promote sustainable lifestyles and safe, dynamic communities. As Seattle changes and grows, the thoughtful design and development of our built and natural environment is more critical than ever.

Below are some key principles for positive Urban Design that are universal. Specific regions, cities, and neighborhoods add more details relevant to their unique conditions, often in the form of a development code or Design Guidelines.

Key Principles of Urban Design

Respond to Physical Context & Site Features

  1. Integrate sustainable systems, materials, operations, species, and features
  2. Strengthen desirable form patterns, natural features, and public spaces
  3. Emphasize positive design elements, history, and character from the locale

Reinforce the Public Realm & Public Life

  1. Implement pedestrian connections, continuity, safety, and amenity
  2. Ensure street-level interaction with transparency, doors, and activating uses
  3. Create usable, sunny, and generous places for tenants, customers, and public
  4. Prioritize pedestrian, bike, and transit access, amenities, and facilities

High Quality Building Concept, Design, Materials, & Execution

  1. Arrange uses and access points to reinforce streets and the public realm
  2. Minimize impacts from vehicles, services, and utilities, and limit blank walls
  3. Compose buildings with multiple scales, depth, material variety, and quality
  4. Create positive open spaces with amenities and lush landscaping
  5. Integrate weather protection, lighting, signage, and all exterior details

Effective Design Review Packets

 

Early Design Guidance Phase

The intent of the Early Design Guidance (EDG) packet is to demonstrate your sincere exploration of the context and site in this early phase as you are developing design options. We have an EDG Checklist to help you prepare and assemble a meaningful packet that clearly documents and communicates your efforts to Seattle DCI, the Design Review Board, and the community.

We have compiled an assortment of graphic examples from past projects that were particularly successful at clearly and succinctly communicating the site and massing information. Below is a sampling of these exemplary packets divided by each content section. Please keep in mind that these were developed for specific sites and projects, so you need to develop an approach best suited to your project. Our hope is that sharing these ideas and graphic strategies will help you consider how to convey your project's site and massing in the most efficient and effective manner.

Recommendation Phase

The intent of the Recommendation packet is to demonstrate how your design has responded to the earlier guidance and present an architectural design. We have a Recommendation Checklist to help you prepare and assemble a meaningful packet that clearly documents and communicates your efforts to Seattle DCI, the Design Review Board, and the community.

We have compiled an assortment of graphic examples from past projects that were particularly successful at clearly and succinctly communicating the design information. Below is a sampling of these exemplary packets divided by each content section. Please keep in mind that these were developed for specific sites and projects, so you need to develop an approach best suited to your project. Our hope is sharing these ideas and graphic strategies will help you consider how to convey your project's design in the most efficient and effective manner.

Visual Design Guidelines

The Citywide Design Guidelines are organized around three themes: Context and Site, Public Life, and Design Concept. Each of these themes contain several guidelines, along with related strategies and approaches for achieving the guidelines.

We have created a gallery of photographs that visually convey the intent of each of these guidelines. Please click on the links below to explore any of the themes. As you scroll over the photos, the title of each guideline appears. By clicking on any of the photos, you can read about the related strategies and approaches.

The full version of the Seattle Design Guidelines, Downtown Design Guidelines, and Neighborhood-Specific Design Guidelines are on the Design Guidelines page.

 

Site Context

Every site has a context. Each project contributes to, and is part of, the greater context that defines the character of the city.

Guidelines within this section are intended to shape buildings that:

  • Incorporate energy efficiency and sustainable solutions
  • Arise from a solid understanding of the site’s natural and built assets
  • Better the relationship between built form and open space, on and off site
  • Support a positive, perceptible character and a distinctive sense of place

Site Context Examples

Public Life

The amount and quality of public life is one measure of a community’s livability. Seattle’s success in creating a walkable, active, attractive city is fundamental to a sustainable future.

Public Life Examples

Design Concept

A strong design concept is more than the sum of its parts. A well-designed building and its open spaces are essential components of a livable and sustainable city.

Design Concept Examples

Downtown Specific

Successful development in our downtown neighborhoods considers these elements:

  • Site planning and massing that respond to the larger context of downtown and the region
  • Architectural expression relating to the neighborhood context
  • Building street façades that create a safe and interactive pedestrian environment
  • Public amenities enhance the streetscape and open space
  • Vehicular access and parking impacts on the pedestrian environment are minimized

Downtown Examples

 

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