What was the brief?
Located in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, Gardner House offers 95 units of affordable housing for low-income and formerly homeless families. The nonprofit-operated Allen Family Center on the ground level is open to the public, and provides education, housing, and employment resources for families in need. This 107,800 SF development a one-stop hub for families and the community.
This project is one block from a light-rail station and tucked between two major arterials, giving residents without vehicles easy access throughout the region. From the road and train, passersby can see the building’s bright, seven-story floral mural painted by Kenji Stoll; the artwork embeds the project into a culturally-rich and ethnically diverse neighborhood, adding street appeal that utilizes the project’s scale to serve as a new orientation point.
Inspired by the glacial carving action that formed the neighborhood, an elevated courtyard is carved out of the building mass to relieve traffic noise and to bring in light and airflow. On the upper floors, the building’s skin is characterized by a grid of staggered windows surrounded by lively accents. The ground floor features a vertical grid of colorful bars that wrap around the building.
The Allen Family Center includes several service providers, each with their own area of focus. The Center also includes a family resource room that anyone in need can access. Other amenities include a children’s play area, large community room, a classroom for educational and recreational programs, and a community kitchen.
The project achieved Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard certification.
What were the key challenges?
The site is small, irregular in shape, bounded by two major roads, and was located in a liquefaction zone. The design team and subconsultants worked closely to fit as many family-friendly units into the property as possible, while still creating a financially and technically feasible design that met the needs of future residents and the goals of the project funders. The 8-story wood over concrete building required special attention from geotechnical, structural, and civil engineering partners. Furthermore, the project team was seeking to construct the project as quickly as possible in order to provide housing for homeless families in need of healthy, stable, and safe housing. Despite these complexities, the team was able to design, permit, and build the project in less than three years.
What materials did you choose and why?
An important item to note is that because this project is 100% affordable housing, most of the material selections were chosen for durability, longevity, and ease of maintenance. Cost is always a concern, but with long-term owner holders – such as with this project – therewas more budget for up-front costs than long-term maintenance costs.Selecting materials that would stand the test of time, and/or would be easy to fix, was very important.
Material Used :
Primarily Fiber Cement Panels by James Hardie, painted a variety of colors on the upper floors of the building. As this project focuses on family housing, some playfulness in color selection was desired. Anodized aluminum storefront, Ceraclad, and break shape metal were used at grade for a higher-quality selection of materials where the public comes in contact with the building.
In common areas, stained concrete was used in the lobby and leasing area for durability, with a mix of sheet vinyl by Optima and linoleum by Marmoleum / Striato in other common areas. Vinyl Plank by Project Flor was used in the units to create a more residential feel as well as a highly durable and easy to maintain material.
Doors and frames were distributed by Builders’ Hardware & Supply Co. Timely frames that are easy to install and easily painted were selected at unit entry doors. Doors are a mix of hollow metal (at common areas) and painted wood at units.
Aluminum glass storefront at grade in black by Kawneer.
Eco Windows, LLC vinyl windows in the units; triple-paned tilt and turn for enhanced acoustics due to proximity to light rail.
SBS Modified Bituminous Membrane Roofing for durability and longevity.
Various LED lighting sourced by Satco, Lithonia, Columbia, BrownLee, Sea Gull, Bega, Winona, WAC, Kelvix, LC&D, and LVS.
Main building furniture not specified by architect.
For the TI of the Allen Family Center, furniture was selected and designed by Gary Henderson Interiors and utilized fun, durable fabrics, primarily in Seattle Seahawks colors, to contribute to a family-oriented atmosphere.