NBBJ Design was selected for the planning and design of a new superblock value retail center in north Seattle. Craig Hardman was the Project Manager and led the design team for the project.
The site is located across a major arterial street from the Northgate Shopping Mall, a large regional shopping center. The project had many challenges. The client wanted to create a multi level big box retail shell with convenient structured parking on a dense urban site. This was a good sustainable solution rather than the traditional suburban sprawling sites with single story buildings and acres of surface parking more typical of this kind of retail business. The big box retailers were looking for big spaces with few windows, easy access parking, and opportunities for maximum visibility signage. The city was looking to establish and reinforce a pedestrian sidewalk environment on one of Seattle’s busiest arterials.
The design response was to create two large boxes with a central block passage between them which would help to re-establish a smaller street grid and reinforce pedestrian scale distances. One box was primarily four levels of retail space; the other box was primarily eight levels of parking. A dramatic two level bridge and two level plaza were designed to connect the two boxes.
The building was designed to work on two different scales. For pedestrians, the deliberately wide sidewalks and central plaza were lined with retail storefronts and display windows and covered with weather protecting canopies. Pedestrian scale blade signage, lighting, and landscape helped to humanize the hardscape. For cars, the building offered several entries for parking including express entry and exit ramps serving the upper levels of the parking garage. The super scale signage, which decorated the otherwise plain boxes, was designed to provide maximum visibility from a distance and passing fast moving cars. The innovative huge identity signs covering the building facades were fashioned from vinyl clad chain link mesh and offer a “now you see it, now you don’t” kind of visual effect. Building colors were selected to reflect branded identity colors of the two primary tenants, Target Red and Best Buy Blue, and established a primary color theme.
In addition to several others at NBBJ, the design team working with Craig Hardman included WPA, Inc. for Environmental Graphics, and Lighting Designs, Inc.