Posts tagged density
SDF 2018 - Urban +: Adding Density while Retaining Character
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As a part of Seattle Design Festival, b9 architects is excited to host a panel discussion, exploring alternative development strategies to preserve Seattle’s existing physical and cultural character while meeting the city’s growing density needs. With an esteemed panel, we will be examining strategies in design, municipal code, and policy in Seattle that balance future growth with current physical and cultural character. Our panelists include -

Moderator:

Rick Mohler, UW Architecture & Mohler + Ghillino Architects

Rick is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington where he strives to leverage his design studio teaching as a vehicle for urban research and social advocacy.  He is a principal of Mohler + Ghillino Architects, a 2016 Affiliate Fellow of the UW Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, chair of the AIA Seattle Public Policy Board and member of its Board of Directors and a member of the Seattle Planning Commission.

Panelists:

Jessica Clawson, McCullough Hill Leary, PS

Jessie is a land use attorney with the law firm of McCullough hill leary.  She assists developers throughout the state of Washington.

Brian Heather, SolTerra

Brian is Founder and CEO of SolTerra, a development company.  His passion is to bring elements from nature into our urban living environment.  He lives his passion through designing, constructing and building integrated environmental technologies and incorporating those systems into real estate development projects that are connecting people to nature and creating amazing community in urban environments.

Quanlin Hu, City of Seattle

Quanlin is a strategic advisor with the Office of Planning and Community Development. In her 6 years at the city, Quanlin has focused on community capacity building and placemaking in historically underserved community such as the Central Area. She is keen on making projects happen through creative solutions and strong partnerships across city departments and with community partners and stakeholders. Quanlin has a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. She holds certificates in urban planning, commercial real estate development and finance, project management and LEED Neighborhood Development.

Matt Hutchins, CAST Architecture

Matt Hutchins is a partner at CAST Architecture designing residential infill, affordable housing, and backyard cottages. As a housing advocate, he has been working on making housing more abundant by flexible and pragmatic zoning reform. He is co-chair of AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force, serves on the Southwest Design Review Board, and cofounded More Options for Accessory Residences (MOAR).

Maiko Winkler-Chin, SCIDpda (Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority)

Maiko Winkler-Chin is the Executive Director of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, whose mission is to preserve, promote, and develop the CID as a vibrant community and unique ethnic neighborhood.  She has a 20+ year history in community and economic development.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place 6-8pm on Thursday, Sept 13 at our storefront studio.

Click here to our facebook event and to RSVP

We hope to see you there!

 

To learn more about our continuing research regarding this topic,
please click on the image below!  ↴

 
Urban +

Hello 2018! While we have been quiet in the blogosphere, our office has been in constant motion with not only traditional work, but also our determined pursuit to expand our practice and our body of work through various outlets. As a result, we are excited to introduce our inaugural blog post of a series that will profile certain aspects of our office that go beyond our typical portfolio. We begin with a pertinent topic in Seattle and with which we have a close connection: urban density and the relationship between existing structures and new construction. 

 

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How harmonious are the need for density, and the desire to preserve urban fabric? At b9 we find the most harmony in thoughtful design impelled by site specific solutions.

 

As the need for density in Seattle has grown, so has the pushback in demolishing the current urban fabric of single family homes. It sometimes feels the default strategy for residential development is to demolish everything that exists on a site and maximize the number of units in a multifamily development.  At the beginning of the year, b9 architects examined the history of our work, and we noticed a different, recurring typology: infill buildings that we are calling Urban +. If site and zoning constraints are met, it becomes possible and sometimes financially beneficial to preserve a site’s existing structures while placing new structures in infill positions in current driveways or backyards. Not only does it afford more financial safety to a development project, this typology also allows a developer to maintain existing urban fabric, while adding surrounding density.

 

Our research on Urban + is ongoing, and we will continue expand on the implications and motivations of this urban strategy in the coming months. 
 

 

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In this exercise we explore the varying scopes of Urban +, the Seattle City zoning and site constraints needed, and the solutions we have designed in this typology. In all case studies, we strived to create a connection to the street as well as a shared communal space between the old and new structures. We defined each strategy based on zoning and the number of lots in question.

 
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1 / SINGLE SF LOT

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The smallest scope of this type of solution, the single lot in the SF zone is zoned to only allow a single principal structure and either an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) internal to the principal structure or a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU). This typology is not yet a viable option for development due to other zoning constraints, and are typically constructed by homeowners looking to utilize the new structure personally or as a rental for additional income. The cost of design and construction makes this typology unfeasible in many cases, causing it to be more of a unique infill situation in the SF zone.


2 / SINGLE LR LOT

On a single lot in Seattle's LR zones, if the existing single family home is in the correct location on site and in good condition, it is possible to preserve the existing home and add a new home on the same lot. This typology most benefits a small developer or a homeowner looking to maximize the lot’s potential and live in a more urban condition while maintaining a limited, or in some circumstances no yard or driveway.

This placement of this solution varies based on the placement of the existing structure. If the lot is wide enough, a new SF home can fill an adjacent space replacing the driveway. If the existing home is placed forward enough, a new structure can be placed in the backyard. In this case, adding a two or three-unit townhouse structure is feasible. This saves the existing structure contributing to the street character while adding two or three residential units.  This additional density to a neighborhood provides minimal impact on the surrounding lots and existing streetscape. Parking still needs to be considered, as does all development where it is required by zoning.

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3 / DOUBLE LR LOT

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The scope expands as the space does. In a double lot in the LR zone, with access from an alleyway, it is possible to create a single family residence and fill in the dual backyard with a townhouse development.  The alley access minimizes the impact of the parking on site, creating more space for shared pedestrian activity and structures.


4 / TRIPLE LR LOT

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The LR zone has allowances for a triple lot as well. In these instances, it is important to evaluate the existing structures in terms of placement on site, and how well-maintained they are. With this understanding, many solutions can be found in the space surrounding each structure creating a significant amount of density in a more thoughtful way, preserving aspects of the existing urban fabric.


5 / MR SINGLE LOT

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In its most significant form, the strategy can be extrapolated to the MR zone. In this case, if an alleyway exists and the existing apartment structure is appropriately maintained and positioned correctly on site, a new apartment structure can be added behind an existing apartment structure.  This adds more density and preserves character structures that are strong contributors to the city’s MR fabric.


Below is a section of a Seattle area neighborhood at an intersection of multiple zones (Single Family, Lowrise, and Neighborhood Commercial). Here, we tested the potential impact of this typology, and examined the scope of density available to the city.

 
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Lastly, we introduced our Urban + analysis at April's AIA Happy Hour, following the theme of "So What're You Gonna Do About It? : Explorations on the Social, Environmental, and Cultural Responsibilities of Design." We had a great turnout in our modest office space and were excited to share our work and values with Seattle's design community. Thank you AIA Seattle for the opportunity to host this fantastic event!