The Milehouse is an example of how a developer and architect can help reinvent an urban environment, in this case in downtown Redmond, Wash., home of corporate giant Microsoft. The six-story building’s square footage was divided among 177 apartments—five for live/work for microbusinesses on the ground level and the rest as studios and varied combinations of one- and two-bedrooms. There is also 2,100 square feet of retail space anchoring the ground level.
But rather than do just one new mid-rise structure, Tiscareno Associates designed two dramatic wings with roof overhangs that frame a central courtyard, to maximize views from many units. More innovation came in the choice of materials—metal panels for the main part of the façade and mosaic stone and rain canopies for the live/work units—as well as a lively silver, bronze, yellow, and orange palette on the exterior and more hues within, says Dan Nelson, principal at Tiscareno.
To make the entrances for the street-facing micro-units seem more private, Tiscareno elevated them to mimic East Coast brownstones with stoops. Because the city of Redmond limited the building height to five stories (but will allow a sixth level if LEED certification is achieved), the project team sought LEED Silver certification, with the Milehouse’s reused vacant site, proximity to mass transit, paths between its location and an adjacent apartment complex to increase walkability, and paring of construction waste. In addition, the building is at least 15% more energy efficient than code required. Nice touches include outdoor fireplaces under a glass canopy and inside fireplaces as focal points in the main entrance.