Seattle Mass Timber

Location: Seattle, WA

Client: DLR Group

Size: 2,700 square meters

Status: completed 2018

Residential, Climate Change

Embracing the credo that the landscape should feel like it’s part of a place, MSP has created an

immersive space that seamlessly transitions from street, to building interior, to skyward exterior.

Marrying the materiality of the building with the natural elements of the urban spaces adjacent

to the site, the design intention for the project was to create a unique environment within each

area of the site, each allowing for various functions to occur. Each area is designed to reflect

the timber at the heart of the project, projected through patterning and with three–dimensional

installations that create a unique address within the neighborhood.

Seattle’s green spaces and urban forests are reinforced through a vibrant Green Street program

and areas that surround the building. With keen visual interest in mind, trees will be selected

for their growing habit, visual characteristics, and status on the city’s approved street tree list.

These areas will address the run-off created by seasonal rains and offer shade and wind screening

to pedestrians. As an alternative to the traditional city tree pit that serves as hallmark of a

typical urban streetscape, MSP can evolve this feature to better reflect the critical need to provide

connection at the root level for these street trees. Tree trenches ensure a healthier microclimate

and soil-level environment for plants, which in turn will allow them to be more effective in

their effort to reduce heat island effect and water absorption.

Situated near Denny Park, the building’s dual entrances will be framed by a sculptural plaza,

punctuated by a large sculptural form reminiscent of the region’s native hemlock. Crafted as a

large cone for conversation, this sculpture will become an iconic landmark within the neighborhood

and serve as a permanent navigational tool for visitors and residents alike. Raised planters

and beds laid out in circular patterns reminiscent of tree rings will ripple outward from the center

of the plaza, framing the open spaces for seating, passive activities, and offering an appealing

view of the parkland nearby.

The treeline of Denny Park will be reflected upon the 12-story glass façade of the Tower, viewed

as a leafy layer over the glimpse of the verdant building atrium interior that awaits. Passing

through the sculpted wood entrance, visitors will be greeted by a striking array of massive,

wooden spindles suspended from the ceiling, creating a tropical, jungle-like canopy, mirrored by

seating areas demarcated on the floor with planted beds of bamboo and other tree-like plants.

While some of these structures will artfully house a variety of lush vines and woody perennial

plantings, others will serve as vessels for live saplings displayed to hang at varying angles. The

raw materiality of this abstracted, aerial forest serves as a visceral reminder of the source of

the building’s structure, and allows for vibrant views from above, below and through the planted

structures.