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The leaning towers of First Hill thrive on ‘creative tension’

The Westbank Frye Highrise project could transform the First Hill skyline

When Perkins+Will presented their initial plans for 707 Terry Avenue in First Hill to the design review board in January, they were told to go back and design “an iconic building and not a background building.” On that advice alone, they appear to have succeeded. You’re not going to miss the new and improved designs they have for the Westbank Frye Highrise project.

They’ll present their updated designs and plans to the design review board tonight.

Proposed on land owned by the Frye Art Museum, the project calls for two, 33-story leaning towers that include 440 apartment units, 7,600 square feet of commercial space, and 283 underground parking spaces. The two towers are connected by a three-story podium as well as a walkway near the very top of both.

As part of the deal with the museum, the Frye will own a handful of the apartments and the garage will include some museum parking spaces.

The tension of the forms create a unique harmony, yet brings excitement to the site. The cladding of the building, a series of shoji screen, represents a canvas – a simple “warp” and “weft” woven together to create a framework. As the screens the are shifted, new patterns begin to emerge, creating an artful representation of urban living.

The frayed look of the towers as they rise really help them stand out from the cookie-cutter pack. Especially when you include the potential for evolving reflections throughout the day as the sun rises and sets. If this gets built anything like what they’ve designed, it’s going to be two of the standout structures around Seattle for years to come.