2007 MFE Awards
Merit: High-Rise

Overgrown with blackberry bushes and dotted with rubbish, the abandoned construction site in Seattle's First Hill area was an eyesore for many years. Today, it's the focal point of the neighborhood because it houses M Street, a high-rise with medical, retail, and residential uses.

Opus Northwest of Bellevue, Wash., purchased the 0.66-acre site from another developer who had halted construction in 2001 after site excavation and slab on grade construction. With the help of Seattle-based design firm GGLO, Opus Northwest revamped the plan to include 220 units, 40,000 square feet of medical office space, street-level retail, and below-grade parking.

M Street's architectural massing incorporates a mix of brick, architectural pre-cast, brick shape aluminum, and glass spandrels. Brick and pre-cast concrete on the lower levels provide a pedestrian feel that fits the context of the older neighborhood, while the sleek lines of the upper tower provide a sense of timeless, modern architecture. Additionally, the project boasts mosaic tile artwork, street-level landscaping, outdoor grotto seating, and an indoor greenhouse on the roof--the first of its kind in Seattle.

The high-rise was designed with separate and distinct lobbies and entrances for the offices and residences, which include studios and one- and two-bedroom units of moderate-level finishes. The apartments range from 475 square feet to 1,342 square feet and garner rents from $2.10 per square foot to $2.30 per square foot. The street-level retail houses a 12,000-square-foot grocery store and a neighborhood bistro.