LMN-designed condominium tower at 800 Columbia St features 9,000 square-foot public park


800 Columbia Street, a new 30-story, 287-unit condominium tower designed by LMN with Daniels Real Estate, LLC, will feature a 9,000-square foot public park that occupies some 40% of the half-acre site, as approved by the City of Seattle Design Review Board last week. With two tiers and optimal placement on the southern exposure, this outdoor “third place” for the revitalizing First Hill neighborhood will offer sweeping elevated views of downtown Seattle and the Puget Sound.

“This is a classic case of zoning and city policy done right,” says LMN Architects partner John Chau. “It’s about placemaking that benefits both the building residents and the entire neighborhood.”

As a result of providing the park, city zoning policy allows the tower to have greater height and floor area ratio (FAR) at a time of historic housing demand in Seattle. A mix of generously sized one and two-bedroom units enjoy a west-facing viewshed of the city center protected by the project’s one-block proximity to Interstate 5, while the impact of the freeway is scarcely felt on the site.

“It’s a fascinating psychological case study, how it feels much farther away – this site is truly an urban oasis,” says Chau. Despite being just a few blocks in all directions from Downtown, the cultural amenities of Capitol Hill, and the region’s largest medical complex, he says, the neighborhood is “actually very quaint.”

The exterior design of the tower responds to the human scale and warm materiality of First Hill’s rich building stock, which includes multi-family housing from a variety of time periods as well as architectural landmarks such as the Frye Art Museum and St. James Cathedral. The two podium levels are clad in sandy-colored masonry punctuated by metal-framed punched window openings, creating a unified, pedestrian-scale language. The façade treatment extends to all four sides of the podium including the alley face, defining a welcoming alternative pathway to the park.

The glass-clad unit levels are composed as a series of distinct volumes divided by horizontal and vertical recesses, breaking up the overall mass of the tower and providing visual relief at the street level. A horizontal recess along the upper edge of the podium creates an exterior deck space for residents, overlooking the street, alley, and park. Vertical recesses extend to the top of the tower, elegantly staggering the roof in an iconic form that complements neighboring towers without using an external appliqué.

LMN and Daniels plan to continue refining the design, addressing the landscape details of the park as well as unit layouts and amenity levels in the podium and rooftop terrace.