Fall 2018, Columbia Pacific Advisors recently completed construction on a 265-unit high-rise that brings luxury, convenience, and spacious living to Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood. We had a chance to catch up with Tiscareno Associates’ lead architect and project manager for The Danforth, Dan Nelson.

Question: First Hill has been experiencing a lot of change as developers and residents alike view it as a desirable place to live. How do you think The Danforth will contribute to the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood?

The site sits at the intersection of three fairly distinct neighborhoods: First Hill, Capitol Hill and Seattle University. Our goal was to design a project that would fit cohesively with these three areas and provide street-level experiences that speak to each area’s residents and users. The Whole Foods Market will also contribute a great deal to this neighborhood.

At the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Madison, we worked with the city to enlarge the sidewalk space out into the intersection to regain useable public space. The resulting plaza is just outside the main entrance of Whole Foods; creating an inviting and pedestrian-friendly space with additional landscaping designed to complement the lush green grounds of Seattle University on the other side of the street.

How did the design help lure a blue-chip tenant like Whole Foods?

Whole Foods expressed interest in the space early on, but they needed around 40,000 SF to make it work. That’s a lot of space when you factor in the garage entry, loading dock, and residential lobby, all of which need to be located at grade level. It took some work, but we were able to do it. Throughout the design process we stayed in close communication with Whole Foods and their architects to maximize the store layout. Both design firms used Revit, a 3-D CADD modeling program which allowed us to quickly and accurately visualize how all the pieces needed to come together.

What is game changing about the Danforth?

The Danforth offers more 2 and 3-bedroom units than most apartment projects coming onto the market right now. The upper two floors are large penthouse units with floor to ceiling glass and upgraded finish and appliance packages. At the penthouse levels we designed four two-story units with a portion of each having a two-story ceiling, providing a breathtaking experience inside to complement the breathtaking views outside.

Other unique features are the food producing greenhouse and vegetable plots located on the roof. Residents will be able to enjoy herbs and vegetables grown both indoors and out. The developer has been talking to local organizations that will work with the residents to plant and grow this food. This will be a great amenity for the residents.

From a design perspective, how does the development implement an efficient layout and floor plan?

Our client, Columbia Pacific Advisors (CPA), gave us their preferred apartment layout mix and we followed that pretty closely. But one of the main challenges for any high-rise structure is column layout, which was also an important consideration for Whole Foods to make their store layouts feel open and inviting. It is essential for the parking garage as well. So finding the optimal column layout that would work for the apartments, the grocery store, and the parking below was a challenge we were able to solve.

What can you tell me about CPA and Tiscareno Associates and their partnership on this project? How does The Danforth represent an intersection of objectives and strategies of the two firms?

CPA had a very clear sense of what they wanted from this project and, like Tiscareno Associates, are very collaborative. CPA, because they are working on a project in their hometown, demonstrated an even greater degree of care toward this project and future residents. I believe that the combined level of care and collaboration is going to culminate into something truly special for the community and the residents of The Danforth.