Project DescriptionCampus Housing / Grand
Phase one of this Seattle campus housing project by Mahlum entailed an unusually complex program. Not only was the firm charged with supplying shelter and amenities for 1,650 University of Washington students, it also had to establish a strong connection between the project and its surrounding neighborhood. “The site is removed from the rest of the campus; it’s more in the city,” says principal Anne Schopf, FAIA. Additionally, Mahlum needed to consider how students would travel to the main campus and how to ensure their security throughout the day and night. And it had to save a massive elm tree on the site.
Ultimately, that tree served as the heart of the project, which includes three residence halls and two apartment buildings. “The tree creates the ‘there’ there,” Schopf says. “It’s the center of gravity for the whole precinct.” It occupies a park that ties together the five structures and can be easily accessed by local residents. Ground-level retail spaces—a restaurant, grocery store, and café—provide another overlap of public and private, and add “eyes on the street” to enhance pedestrian safety.
For the buildings themselves, Mahlum made the most of inexpensive materials like vinyl windows, oversized brick, and perforated metal. “We came up with the idea of shifting windows, so each room is slightly different even though there are only three or four window types,” Schopf says. Tight envelopes limit energy use. “A great materials palette and interesting fenestration,” said one judge. “It’s a handsome project.” —Meghan Drueding