Architect: SMR Architects
Location: Bellevue, Washington, USA
Project Team: John Woodworth, Paul Hanson, Scott Starr, Leah Ericksen
Client: Imagine Housing
Contractor: WG Clark Construction
Structural and Civil Engineers: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
Photographs: Courtesy of SMR Architects
At Andrew’s Glen, SMR Architects partnered with Imagine Housing to provide 40 units of transitional housing to an Eastside community deeply in need. St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church initiated the project, with a vision to help struggling individuals get back on their feet in a tangible way — and whose large, central site was a perfect fit. The team collaborated over the course of two years to create the right program and the right building to suit the need and the site. Today, twenty units and support services are dedicated to the needs of a formerly homeless, and largely disabled, population of Veterans, while an additional twenty units help stabilize the community in providing for formerly homeless individuals and families.
The site is designed to continue a campus feel for the three established uses: Church, Housing, and Thrift Store. The new apartments definethe street edge, and establish both the pedestrian and vehicular connections to all three uses. Pedestrian activity is now focused on an active community space in between the church and the apartments, central to the site, and directly connected to public transportation. This spine gathers uses — meeting spaces, laundry, and play areas, both indoors and out — while embracing the steep hillside across the site.
The exterior is simple and modest, respectful of the larger community in massing, color and materials. The richly mottled concrete common room walls, flanking the bright, welcoming doorway, define the entry. An open parking garage fronts the remaining two-thirds of the street and maintains the existing on site parking. A mesh screen teases as it reveals and masks the parking garage beyond, while opaque panels break the rhythm of the garage columns, and of the units above. An opportunity for delight is formed from what might have been a long, bleak wall.
Units include many universal design features to increase their accessibility to a variety of tenant needs. This includes a soothing and contrasting interiors color pallet to help the visually impaired; full turning circles and removable vanity cabinets in most bathrooms; and providing accessible appliances, fixtures and hardware everywhere.
Full-height windows make for a unique experience, designed in proportion with the human body. This additional height allows light to penetrate deep into the unit, while the low sills expand and frame the territorial views. The sun connects to the floor immediately, and traces its daily path — natural light makes such a big difference in our lives through the long, dark months of the year.
Interior common rooms look out onto covered exterior spaces, which in turn lead to areas open to the sky. In our climate it is wonderful to be able to choose the space that suits you need as the weather changes: spaces that are cozy and warm; spaces that focus and embrace the sun; spaces that let you experience the cold, crisp air, while sheltered from the rain.