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Sunday, June 9, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Urban American dreams: Housing the Northwest tour shows off hot new multifamily homes

Seattle Times staff reporter

The stereotypical American dream may be a house surrounded by a picket fence, but the reality is that new housing in dense urban areas like metropolitan Seattle increasingly means multifamily projects. Count among them apartments, condominiums and cottages, which make more efficient use of scarce land, helping to contain sprawl and retain prized open areas.

The sixth annual Seattle Times/American Institute of Architects multifamily design tour, called Housing the Northwest, showcases some of these projects. Each of the six highlighted here will have at least one unit open to the public today (Sunday) only from noon to 5 p.m.

Architects Lisa Kennan-Meyer and Caroline Kreiser co-chaired this year's Housing the Northwest program. They said the goal is to provide the community with a progress report on how our area is addressing housing needs.

Four judges selected the featured projects from among 16 submitted by local architects. The judges were architect Paul Olson, of Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects; Vikram Prakash, associate dean of the University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning; real-estate developer Peter Erickson, whose Belltown Lofts project was featured last year; and associate AIA member Karen DeLucas of Geise Architects.

Live/Work Lofts

1310 E. Union St., Seattle.

Size: Eight condominiums.

Architects: David Miller, Kurt Stolle and Lene Copeland of Miller/Hull Partnership.

Developer: Dunn and Hobbes LLC.

Builder: Turner Construction.

This building occupies a very small Capitol Hill site. Thus the only way to go was up, which the architects did, building to 65 feet — the maximum allowed by zoning. This gained light and city views.

The condominiums vary in size from 700 to 1,600 square feet. The north and south sides of the building are fully glazed from floor to ceiling to allow for maximum light and to bring in the outdoors.

Glass and aluminum-frame garage doors roll up, converting the living and dining spaces to exterior usage. Parking is provided; there is a public roof deck, and some units have private roof terraces. The cost: $259,000 to $799,000 per unit. Half are sold. What the judges said: This is a generous gift to the world of architecture. It brings housing to the public that's high end, architectural and exquisite.

Delridge Library & Vivian McLean Place Apartments

5425 Delridge Way S.W., Seattle.

Size: 19 rental apartments.

Architect: Peter Goodall of Stickney Murphy Romine Architects.

Developers: Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association.

Builder: Walsh Construction.

In their quest to provide affordable housing within an expensive city, architects and developers have to think outside the box. Here's one example: a project that tops a new branch library with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments whose monthly rents range from $475 to $824. (They're available to low-income tenants only; for more information call 206-923-0917.)

There is a large terrace and a play deck for the residents plus P-Patch planters so residents can raise flowers and vegetables. Exterior metal work by Nick Lyle and Jean Whitesavage. The library will have 20,000 books and materials, plus reading and study areas, computer stations, and special kids and young adults areas.

What the judges said: This is a good, innovative public/private partnership that creates affordable housing. It makes a social statement.

Greenwood Avenue Cottages

310 N. 160th Pl., Shoreline.

Size: Eight small houses.

Architects: Ross Chapin, Eric Richmond and Matthew Swett.

Developer: Jim Soules of The Cottage Co.

Builder: Jay Kracht for The Cottage Co.

Until the city of Shoreline changed its housing code to allow development of small-scale cottages, the three-quarter-acre parcel occupied by the Greenwood Avenue Cottages was destined for four houses of unlimited size.

Instead the parcel holds eight small houses, each less than 1,000 square feet and oriented around a common landscaped space. Priced from $259,900 to $289,900 each, they have individual yards and porches, and bright interior spaces. Parking and garages are clustered to one side.

Plans were designed so no window looks into a neighbor's bedroom. (All may be sold by open-house time.)

What the judges said: It's quite lovely, a community within a community that echoes the history of Seattle cottages.

Radford Court

6301 65th Ave. N.E., Seattle.

Size: 400 rental apartments.

Architect: Ron van der Veen of Mithun Partners.

Developer: Lorig Associates.

Builder: Walsh Construction.

The challenges facing this sizable redevelopment project were considerable. First was the steep hillside site. Second was neighborhood opposition. But there was no getting around the fact that the existing buildings — vintage military stock turned University of Washington married-student housing — were badly worn and needed to come down.

In their place, Radford Court managed to save 70 percent of the existing vegetation yet nearly doubled the density.

Designed to meet the needs of married UW students, the complex includes a community center, day-care facility and large campus green. The units range from $800 a month one-bedroom units to $1,230 a month three-bedroom units. Many are townhouses; each has a built-in study carrel.

What the judges said: It has a sense of village about it and exudes community. It could be in the country or the suburbs.

Ventana at the Market

2100 Western Ave., Seattle.

Size: 43 apartments.

Architects: Ed Weinstein and Milton Won of Weinstein Copeland Architects.

Developer: Allegra Development Co.

Builder: Walsh Construction.

Located at the north end of the Pike Place Market, the Ventana typifies the city's emphasis on developing housing within the context of a mixed-use environment. Thus, besides providing apartments, this building also offers 7,500 square feet of street-level retail space, 2,000 square feet of office space and 32 parking stalls.

To conform to the land-use code's height limit, the building stairsteps in two sections that appear joined by a glazed gasket. In reality, the gasket is wall-to-wall windows found in studio units.

Exterior building materials, including concrete, steel and masonry veneer, were chosen to blend with the neighborhood. The apartments rent from $995 for a studio to $5,500 for a penthouse.

What the judges said: It's just elegant, exquisite urban architecture, contemporary and expressive.

Soho Condominiums

501 Seventh Ave., Kirkland.

Size: 58 condominiums.

Architects: Tom Frye Jr. and Ed Sozinho of Baylis Architects.

Developer: 604 Fifth Avenue.

Builder: Skillingstad Construction.

Located on the edge of Kirkland's business district, Soho is aimed at buyers seeking a contemporary urban lifestyle offering amenities within walking distance.

Contained in two buildings set over a subterranean parking garage, the condos were designed in a variety of sizes and styles to reduce the building's scale and create the sense of being individual homes.

Inside, the units feature 10-foot ceilings and open living spaces with windows on two sides. They include flats and townhouses priced from $155,000 to $545,000. All have been sold.

What the judges said: Well done and rich in complexity, this building has a lot of depth.

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