There are aspects of the building shown above that are more consequential than the orange wall, though that bad boy is a piece of work, to be sure. Pb Elemental‘s designers, not known for subtle gestures, continue to be the local masters of ignoring context — not that that is necessarily a bad thing, particularly when there is very little in the way of valuable context to ignore. (But if you look closely at the fresh graffiti on the building it reads “your orange wall sucks cause it’s way out of context with Parnell’s Mini-mart!”)

Behind that orange wall is soon to be Pb Elemental’s first completed stand-alone “work-loft” unit, located at 23rd Ave and Dearborn in the Central District. Also under construction on the same development site are a pair of 2-story loft homes.

This is an unconventional project. First, the location would seem to be an unlikely one, for residential as well as commercial. Second, the mix of uses on a single infill site is innovative. And third, the stand-alone, small footprint, 2-story loft layout is unusual for a commercial space. Oh yeah, and it’s bold and boxy and gray and has a big orange wall. And one more thing about that orange wall — it is likely to contribute to the success of the commercial space because it creates such a strong sense of identity.

Pb Elemental has four other work-unit projects listed on their website. And I think they’re onto something good. These small units should help encourage micro-retail and support small, independent businesses. And best of all, since the commercial spaces are so small, they don’t require on-site parking — Pb’s Union and Leary projects have none. We ought to have a sustainability award that goes to every developer who has the audacity to put up a new building with no on-site parking.

12 Responses to “Orange”

  1. Matt the Engineer

    I wasn’t sure about Pb, but I love the no-parking thing (assuming the site has good access to transportation) and the mixed use. They’re growing on me.

  2. Dave

    I bike pass that building everyday and LOVE IT!

  3. Crush

    I have a (orange) crush on Pb. Thank God someone is finally combining thought and good design, while creating conversation and awe. Well done, boys!

  4. Steve

    It doesn’t appear that any of Pb’s townhouse-style projects went through design review, which suggests the line that townhouse-projects-that-don’t-go-through-review-are-all-the-same isn’t 100% true.

  5. Shane

    Could you elaborate more on the out of context? I actually think it is perfect. When I think of mini-marts (7-11 being the most generic) I think of bright primary colors – the ones marketeers use to get attention – in that context, it seems to fit. Also, the wall seems to help minimize the mini-mart and its sign – which you now barely notice. Then again, maybe I’m just partial growing up a Bronco’s fan??

  6. Spencer

    Good thing the mini-mart in question is in the photo and it’s white(ish). The rest of the area is mostly single family homes of the usual Seattle sort.

    Frankly, I’m not yet been genuinely impressed with both Pb’s design and business sense. They definitely are making (loud) baby-steps toward a better kind of Seattle but they’ve taken the shotgun approach to getting it done. They clearly pander to the image conscious consumer who wants to be noticed.

    In the case of this building it definitely jumps out. I wonder what the owners and workers of Parnell’s think of it? and the neighbors? Not that any of that should matter. The orange wall will help identify the Parnell’s to people seeking it out but it will also distract the drive-bys. Time will tell but I feel the success of this building will be told in the longevity of Parnell’s and not the visual excitement around an orange wall.

  7. Shane

    Thanks, Spencer. Its actually reminding me of a neighbor who is remodeling with alternating fucia-like-colored sides and yellow sides with purple and green parts also. I’ll have to snap a photo here soon.

  8. Spencer

    Shane, Awesome. I’d love to see it.

    On my way into work today I could clearly see the orange wall from on top of Beacon Hill. It caught the corner of my eye and I instantly knew what it was. If I can get a photo of it I’ll post it.

    As a side thought to all this what if there were two or three blocks of these buildings. What a wild view from Beacon Hill.

  9. psycho

    hello – great marketing and color therapy

  10. Knox

    As one of the neighbors here in Judkin’s Park, I keep wondering who in the heck would be dull enough to spend the $$$ to live on 23rd and next to Parnell’s, which surprisingly in your photo does not show the typical drug dealers and whores that make the parking lot home into all hours.

    Judkins Park is actually home to many of the cities oldest extant Victorians, though clearly working class homes from the time, and less the craftsman/bungalows you more typically find in the center city. I just mention that because in many ways it is a bit different than other neighborhoods in the city and it’s actually a very nice pocket neighborhood. Though we’re zoned LTD, and so many of the homes are coming down and are being replaced by very ugly cheaply-constructed, uninteresting town homes.

    I am waiting to see how long these stay on the market due not to how they look (I think pretty cool) but to the awful location. I have heard rumors that Pb is trying to get the Parnell’s parcel. From the neighbors we have chatted with there is a lot excitement that the mini-mart may get replaced with something else. That whole corner is ripe for redevelopment.

  11. Devon

    As another Judkins Park resident, I can attest to what Knox says: many of us are hoping for Parnell’s to, well, be utterly transformed. I’m hoping these new buildings speed that process.

    As for the orange wall, it’s a great landmark for visitors coming from the south. I love it. And these buildings are a thousand times better than the crap being thrown up in our neighborhood. (But, yes, I agree that higher density is good.)

  12. Pb Micro-Ghost Towns | hugeasscity

    […] Elemental cranked out a remarkable number of progressive projects like this one with the big orange wall on 23rd Ave.   Alas, their timing was just a wee bit off.  The three Central District projects […]

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