This mixed-use development blends historic renovation and new building on a single city block, creating a welcoming “village within a village” oasis in the heart of an urban neighborhood.
Chophouse Row is the last piece of developer Liz Dunn’s 15-year master plan to encourage small-scale “incremental urbanism” in Seattle’s Pike/Pine neighborhood. It features a mix of new and old: retail, restaurant, offices, and housing, all in the same building as well as the greater block.
The design knits together an entire block of disparate buildings via new pedestrian corridors and connections between old and new space to create a truly mixed-use project. Challenges for the project included resolving an 11-foot change in elevation between the east and west boundaries of the site, interweaving old and new structures, and stacking multiple mixed uses.
Gathering spaces and connections to other buildings on the block are born by strategically removing parts of existing buildings, leaving an open framework of remnant structural elements as spatial organizers. For example, carved out of an old auto parts warehouse, a narrow retail-lined passageway known as “the Mews” leads from the street into a mid-block courtyard. The courtyard, also carved out of existing buildings, serves as an event/market space with access to six neighboring buildings at multiple levels.
The project is highly energy-efficient, wrapped in a continuous exterior mineral wool “blanket”, with high U-value operable fiberglass windows containing low-e coatings tuned according to façade orientation. Heating is provided by a hot-water radiator system, selected by the client to allow future connection to a planned district energy grid, which will allow neighborhood buildings to transfer excess heat from one to another rather than wasting it.
Given Dunn’s role as founding director of the National Trust’s Research and Policy Lab, which promotes “the connections between older buildings and a range of positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes,” it was imperative to save significant parts of the existing two-story auto parts warehouse building, showcasing its value and beauty. In response, the new building’s steel frame is carefully woven down through the old building, seismically bracing it at the same time. Similar to Chophouse Row’s sister project, the nearby Melrose Market, new steel connections, drag struts, and brace frames are juxtaposed against the original wood post and beam construction, a model for adding seismic resilience to older buildings. Parts of the building that were removed show up again as wood stair planks, Mews siding, and benches.
Beyond these efforts, there is a deeper idea of community resilience and community building at work, and it has to do with creating connections. Chophouse Row is located in a walkable neighborhood, designed to support diverse, small local businesses and activities. Accordingly, the owner has worked to curate a wide variety of interconnected and mutually supportive uses, including an ice cream store, barber shop, bike repair, dog day care, several restaurants, a hardware store, penthouse apartments, a pair of tech companies, and the Cloud Room, a collaborative co-working space with its own bar and community meeting room. A Wednesday “night market” is hosted in the courtyard and organized by several of the restaurants to promote family-owned food producers.
Upgrading the safety and performance of buildings for adaptive reuse reduces the built environment’s impact on environmental resources and preserves the history and culture of a community that often leads to further investment in the neighborhood. These outcomes reflect AIA’s qualities of resilience as described in the Institute's resilience education series, which features the Melrose Market project by this firm in Course 9: Community Design and Engagement for Resilience.