Carving a New Identity in the Heart of the City: Rainier Square, Seattle

Session: Track F: Best Tall Building Award By Function: Mixed Use, Part 1

Andy BenchMindy Levine-ArcherProject image

Andy Bench
Vice President, Wright Runstad & Co

Mindy Levine-Archer
Partner, Firmwide Design Leader, NBBJ
New York City

Rainier Square redefines Seattle’s skyline and brings new energy to the central business district. The development includes a mixed-use high-rise containing office space, residential units, and retail, as well as below-grade parking capacity for 1,000 vehicles. Its unique carved form complements and honors the neighboring Rainier Tower, which was designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. Its form also creates a welcoming street-level presence, maximizes space and views, and establishes a unique identity for the neighborhood.

By redeveloping the entire block while also making an iconic addition to the skyline, the project revitalizes a languishing area of the city and creates a new urban hub. The cascading east façade protects views from the existing Rainier Tower and provides a wide variety of floor plate sizes within the office portion of the new building. The residential portion is lifted above the office floors, where plates are smallest and best suited for residential layouts, while also providing the best views. And the podium holds retail space, both on the inside and the outside of the block, activating the streetscape and providing a through-block connection for pedestrians. The project’s exterior slope design was driven by numerous studies to maximize views and daylight, and enhance the interior layouts to create environments tailored to different building users.

With the environment and sustainability in mind, the development houses a mix of uses that present the opportunity for energy savings between projects. This “heat bank” concept allows for energy transfers between complementary uses like office and residential. Through this integrated, holistic building systems approach, the building is targeting a performance level at least 7.5 percent above the requirements of the Seattle Energy Code, already one of the country’s most stringent.

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