A large mixed-use development in the Sunset neighborhood of Renton, Solera, has recently received design approval. The master plan includes 550 mixed-income apartments, 96 fee simple townhomes and over 30,000 SF of commercial space in two buildings. While other developers had failed to find a workable fit for the large 11-acre parcel, affordable family housing developer DevCo made its vision for affordable- and workforce-housing pencil out, with a number of larger 4-bedroom units. The city’s desire to balance the mix with smaller market-rate units created a design challenge for us, demanding extra resourcefulness in building shape and unit design.
Likewise, balancing the extra parking needed for mixed-use affordable housing with zoning regulations on parking and the project’s unique amenities—including indoor basketball court, indoor swimming pool, and commercial daycare facility—we designed a large underground parking structure and “hid” above-ground parking on the inside of wraparound structures. Finally, to signal Solera’s dual commercial and residential identities, we clad ground floor commercial space in dark brick masonry for a modern look, incorporating warm wood-like siding above with balconies and shed roofs for a more residential feel. Without making them identical, we gave both buildings tripartite facades and a dark neutral color palette to reinforce a sense of unified community.