Green Design 2009: A Cooler Shade of Green

Pumping Seattle's architecture with a green pulse
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A central principle of green design is taking something that has outlived its usefulness and giving it new life. This was the goal of Jason Morrow when his company, Footprint Developments, purchased a lot at the north end of the Aurora Bridge in 2006, with the intention of building seven modern town houses on the site. The corner block was the longtime home to a Seattle icon, the Bridge Motel (famous for its Noir-style red neon sign), which, in the decades following its 1954 opening, had fallen into disrepair, and disrepute.

“The site appealed to me for its central Fremont location, which is convenient to pedestrian traffic and public transportation,” remembers Morrow. Also appealing were the amazing views of downtown, Lake Union, the ship canal and the Olympics and Cascades, which Morrow describes as “sensational from every unit.”

For the 17 months following the demolition of the motel, Morrow worked closely with architect Marc Pevoto of Johnston Architects and landscape architect Jack Johnson of Outdoor Studio to raise the environmentally sensitive town houses, which include a rare perk for green developments, underground parking. The project, called Footprint at the Bridge, recently earned LEED’s (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) highest Platinum rating, thanks to features such as Energy Star appliances, no- and low-VOC paints and finishes, carbon monoxide sensors in every unit and Power-Pipe drain-water heat-recovery systems that use warm drain water to heat cold fresh water as it flows through the pipes. Another water-wise element is a storm-water recycling system that captures rain from the roof and pipes it to a 22,000-gallon cistern in the parking garage, where it is used for irrigation and filling residents’ toilet tanks, saving an estimated 100,000 gallons of fresh water a year.

Unlike some sustainably designed developments, this one doesn’t sacrifice exterior aesthetics. Residents can enjoy a protected park-like setting in the central courtyard and side yard, whose verdant landscaping includes 48 trees and 1,300 plants, of native and native-like varieties, but no lawns requiring heavy watering.

Says Pevoto, “The project is a peaceful oasis in the midst of this very busy urban environment.”

Architects: Marc Pevoto, partner in charge, and Ray Johnston, consulting partner, Johnston Architects, 100 NE northlake way, Seattle; 206.523.6150;
Developer: Jason Morrow, Footprint Developments, Seattle; 206.547.1192;
Landscape architect: Jack Johnson, Outdoor Studio, Seattle; 206.763.3626;
Completed: April 2009
Prices: $680,000 to $750,000
Architect’s advice for building green: “Make sure it’s something you consider from the beginning and that everyone working with you understands that,” says Marc Pevoto. “It’s more effective to use an integrated process, rather than adding on features.”