Located in the center of Seattle’s vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood, once the heart of the automobile trade and now the densest city neighborhood and epicenter for millennials, the mixed-use AVA Capitol Hill shows how a modern building can be built atop pre-existing historic structures for a vibrant aesthetic that looks both back and forward.
Part of the catalyst for the project came from the community itself, which had been divided over preserving the old—including crumbling brick walls—versus demolishing what existed and starting over. AvalonBay (AVB) management worked to balance the requests, and many components of the former building were retained on the exterior and in the interior, such as brick walls. “We engaged with community groups early on to preserve what we physically could,” says Brian Fritz, AVB’s senior vice president.
The six-story building’s façade mixes traditional brick and masonry from the early 1900s with new stainless steel tile and cementitious siding. A one-story building that had been the service center for car dealerships and had a 20-foot-high vaulted ceiling with restored timbers was repurposed as a fitness center and clubroom. Each apartment repeats the old and new mix with old Mercedes-Benz colors and copper piping and steel tubing used in the auto industry but now combined with newer concrete-and-chalkboard walls.
Because of the millennial market target, technology, healthfulness, and a sense of community became influences, evident in the omnipresent Wi-Fi, a roof deck with dining areas and barbecues, a pet park, a fitness center, bicycle storage, low-VOC paint, low-emissions adhesives and sealants, and proximity to public transportation. The building is 95% occupied, a resounding endorsement of success.