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Pivot Mixed-Use Project Opens

Q&A with Tiscareno Associates Architect Bill Barton

Creating meaningful multi-use functionality in a space of this size required every bit of the team’s experience optimizing efficiencies. In eight stories the structure holds 65 apartment units, 4,500 square feet of restaurant and retail, and a 30-key hotel.

Pivot was developed by Vibrant Cities and is a project which responds functionally and aesthetically to both of its identities: residential with views to downtown and hip Capitol Hill.

With the project recently opening, architect and Tiscareno Associates Project Manager Bill Barton shared his thoughts on what Pivot brings to Seattle.

What was the most exciting opportunity presented by this project?

Pivot really punches above its weight class. The site is only 10,000 SF, diamond-shaped, sloped, and on a highly visible gateway site between I-5, Capitol Hill and Downtown. Our client came to us with an existing design and tasked us to completely re-envision the project as a multi-mixed use signature building that was both cool and economical. Pivot contains apartments with great views, below grade parking, a hotel, and three distinct retail/restaurant spaces – which is a lot on a small, irregular site.

What were the developer/owner’s project goals from the outset? Did they shift at all throughout the conceptual design stage to the construction document set issued?

The addition of the hotel apartment –Sonder at Pivot on Pine– was the biggest change from the owner. We actually designed the project with two floors of office and late in the project we had to “pivot” to design and permit a hotel inside the project instead. You might not even realize the hotel is there, but it makes a lot of sense being so close to the convention center and next to all the great offerings of Capitol Hill.

What was on the site previously?

Located at 1208 Pine Street, the site was previously a parking lot.

What was the Design concept? Provide specifics for the approach to both the exterior and interior design.

Pivot is sited right where the street grid of Downtown intersects with the Capitol Hill grid. Essentially, we took our massing envelope, cut a line at two stories, and rotated the upper mass to align with the Capitol Hill grid, while the base held tight to the Downtown grid. The base speaks strongly to the existing context of the Pike-Pine Corridor with its two to three stories of “auto-row” brick buildings while the tower takes advantage of views, is much more efficient, and presents a clean façade right on axis to people coming down Pine Street. It was that simple design move that really made all the difference and is why Pivot is aptly named.

The design responds to urban context of Pine Street near Melrose Market. Retail, restaurant, and hotel apartment spaces are clad in masonry and aligned with the sidewalks. Light-hued exteriors contrast with the darker brick below. A vertically proportioned pattern of color and material lends a rich depth to the skin and interlocks the shifted masses.

What are the most notable benefits and amenities?

The intent of the project is to take full advantage of the neighborhood and adjacency to Downtown as the amenity. Being in Capitol Hill is great in this regard. The project has underground parking and a roof deck but internally, the views are probably the best thing about it because due to the massing turn, residents get good views to the north, east, west and southwest, which is rare in Capitol Hill. We located most of the circulation on the alley, so that left more open perimeter for windows on the sides where it counted.

Were there any challenges with the site and permitting?

Pivot has the most optimized FAR of any project I’ve ever worked on, and so we really worked hard with the city to account for every square foot. The residential, retail and hotel uses all counted differently, but I think our team did a great job maximizing the square footage.

Being adjacent to the interstate meant a lot of interactions with WSDOT and in order to keep the project moving we needed to drive a lot of communications between SPU, SDOT and WSDOT. Besides that, we have an SDOT turnaround on our small site and an extra Seattle City Light vault that serves the whole block. Even I’m a little amazed that the building looks as clean and sleek as it does despite everything that’s packed into it.

What approach did your team take to align the interests of the developer, the City, and the community stakeholders?

Throughout the design process with met with community groups to discuss the project. They included the Capitol Hill BIA, Melrose Promenade and the Pike-Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, who was particularly helpful in their willingness to meet with us at various stages and give us feedback on the design.

Who are the consultants on the project?

The consultant team is Structural: DCI (structural), KPFF (civil), Blueline Group (landscape), and Pressler Engineering (energy),Two9 Design (Interior Design)


About the Architect

Bill Barton brings to Tiscareno Associates more than 15 years of experience in mixed-use, retail, and multi-family projects, both in the US and abroad. His core expertise is project management, and he excels in entitlement, permitting, and design. He has a natural ability to think creatively from many angles, leading to multiple options and outstanding results for clients and review boards.

As project manager, Bill deftly guides projects through the entire design review processes, integrating input to ensure the project remained authentic. He successfully led the mixed-use project, Pivot, from its early stages of design through construction administration. For another high-profile project in Capitol Hill, The Danforth, the firm called on Bill’s skills as Technical Architect and Quality Manager to help the client squeeze an ambitious program into a bustling three-neighborhood corner lot.

Bill’s education includes a Masters in Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University and a Bachelor of Architecture from University of Cincinnati. He is also an AIA-registered architect. He has been published in the Daily Journal of Commerce and in Multifamily Executive magazine.


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