South Lake Europe

What’s all this then, Seattle’s first Euro-modern mid-rise housing? One way to check is if you can take major sections of the building, flip them upside down in your mind’s eye, and it all still looks about the same.  As in, vertical symmetry.  Apparently the designers think we don’t need a cornice or some other decoration to remind us where the top of the building is.  Audacious.

Located on the northeast corner of Westlake and Denny in South Lake Union, they call it Rollin Street Flats, and it was designed by Portland-based Ankrom Moisan.  That firm is currently designing another project right next door at 975 John St, and also is responsible for the not-so-Euro — more Floridian, you might say — stocky hulk known as Mirabella.

Up until now, NBBJ’s Alley 24 was about the most Euro midrise project in Seattle.  But Rollin St pushes it further with the picture frame motif — like Pb Elemental’s cliche trademark writ large (not that Pb invented it).   And I can’t help thinking that Rollin St must have been heavily influenced by the building shown at the bottom of this post.

All rambling aside, I like it a lot.

14 Responses to “South Lake Europe”

  1. Chris

    It looks like a giant walk-up apartment from a distance because of the connected decks.

    I’m lukewarm to it all-in-all. I wish it could have added to the pedestrian experience along Denny more than it does; it seems to crowd the street.

  2. Kathryn

    When you get at a distance this style starts to blur into the same thing one sees on Cap Hill above the freeway. Industrial boxes with windows. I would like more shape. The thingy at street level looks interesting. I will have to walk down there and see how it feels.

  3. Benjamin Lukoff

    I’ve seen worse. It does remind me of some of the buildings I saw in London with Victorian row houses on either side — a German bomb had gone off, and instead of trying to replicate the old architecture, they ended up with this. Not terrible. Not great.

    Incidentally, Rollin Street was the original name of Westlake Avenue. Nice to see that bit of history preserved.

  4. Ellery

    The brick makes me happy. You don’t see much brick out here, and I miss it.

  5. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    I’ll like it a lot better if Vulcan can get some retail in on the ground. There’s too much empty space on Westlake.

  6. holz

    there is nothing “euro” about this except maybe the trespa.

    blah, it’s a hideous, soulless, vacuous p.o.s., and not one of ankrom moisan’s better projects.

  7. Joe G

    Did any one else notice that the land use bulletin noted the area as being Magnolia/Queen Anne? Does the city not recognize that neighborhood as SLU yet?

  8. dan cortland

    No doubt the impression that the trespa belongs indoors will fade as it shows up on more buildings. The “picture frame”, not having any obvious structural function, is too massive, and suggests a waste of materials for what appears to be a purely decorative feature designed to break up the building mass.

    Are full-block structures such a challenge (at least for local talent)? The north half of RSF by itself is not bad (picture frame excepted). Across the street, the east half of Enso, viewed from the north, is an okay building, while the west section might have been imported from a suburban business park. Maybe half a block should be the size limit for new projects.

  9. Benjamin Lukoff

    Joe, I wonder if they’re going by ZIP Code? It is 98109, after all, which is more commonly associated with Queen Anne (both lower and upper).

  10. Kathryn

    It’s bizarre.

    The Land Use notices have one of the following designates:
    Northeast
    North/Northwest
    Magonolia/Queen Anne
    Downtown/Central
    South
    West Seattle

    The Design Review Boards are:
    Capitol Hill
    Downtown
    Northeast
    Northwest
    Queen Anne/ Magnolia
    Southeast
    Southwest

    The Central area is in Downtown/Central and gets reviewd by the Capitol Hill board.

  11. Andrew Smith

    @10
    It’s very weird. Though do know most cities don’t have nearly this level of community involvement.

  12. Kathryn

    @11 Andrew

    Many cities have more real community involvement and it takes a different and I daresay more effective form. Design Review in Seattle is an obstruficating joke for most citizens. It’s place needs to be clearly understood, while valid an useful, as s government function.

    Some cities require written notice to people living within a certain distance of anything being developed and a public hearing.

    Most cities either have a system of directly elected neighborhood representatives (Memphis, DC, Los Angeles), or are based on a district based council with district organizations (nearly all), or have neighborhood plans tied to neighborhood organizations who manage those plans and standards within their neighborhoods (Austin, San Francisco).

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    [...] 6.24.09: Denny and Westlake [...]

  14. Humberto Blewett

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