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The evolution of sustainable design takes a major step this week in Seattle with the groundbreaking for Northlake Commons, a stunning, transformational new mass timber commercial development focused on elevating the human experience for the post-pandemic workplace.
Nestled on the northern shore of Lake Union, Northlake Commons offers 167,000 square feet of space for tech and life sciences tenants featuring floor to ceiling windows highlighting views of Lake Union and Downtown Seattle, framed by warm wood interiors throughout.
Outdoor space is a prominent element of the project, with 65,000 square feet of programmed outdoor space integrated into every level, including spacious private decks and expansive plazas which connect directly to the popular bike and pedestrian Burke-Gilman Trail. It also offers 8,000 square feet of curated retail outlets, including restaurant and patio space.
Northlake Commons showcases sustainability throughout. The first mass timber commercial building of its size in Seattle – this LEED Gold project offers a lower-carbon alternative to exclusively concrete and steel construction. Its environmentally focused design incorporates an extensive landscaped plaza and bioswale, enabling the development of a regional stormwater system in partnership with the City of Seattle which will clean millions of gallons of polluted water.
The project is a unique partnership between Seattle’s iconic Dunn Lumber family and award-winning developers Hess Callahan Grey Group, Spear Street Capital, and Weber Thompson Architects – the team behind Seattle’s acclaimed Watershed Fremont development.
The pandemic played a big part in the evolution of Northlake Commons’ design, said Joanna Callahan, Principal with Hess Callahan Grey Group. “We had the opportunity to think about how a workplace would evolve to meet the demands of a post-COVID world. We are no longer just competing with other office buildings; we are competing with people’s homes. The project addresses a need for workspace outside the central business district that focuses on wellness and community in the workplace, with plenty of access to fresh air, daylight, and the outdoors,” Callahan said.
Northlake Commons is the first commercial development for Seattle’s storied Dunn family, which has owned and operated a thriving lumber and building material business for over a century. The family had been considering a new development for the land it has owned directly across the street from its North Lake Union headquarters for many years, said Rob Dunn, Vice President of Dunn Lumber.
After meeting with numerous developers, the Dunn family chose Hess Callahan Grey Group to lead the project. The developers in turn brought in their trusted architectural partners at Weber Thompson, whose design incorporated a new 23,500 square foot warehouse, distribution and showroom facility for Dunn Lumber within the lower southern half of the building along Northlake Way.
“In order for Dunn Lumber to stay in this area of Seattle and provide outstanding customer service, we need a state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution facility,” Dunn said. “The team at Hess Callahan Grey Group and Weber Thompson have created an outstanding vision that propels us and our company into a bright future while honoring and preserving our commitment to this community.”
Said Cody Lodi, Principal at Weber Thompson: “The building design is a contemporary nod to the legacy of the Dunn family and the timber industry with the mass timber framework and shingled exterior cladding referencing traditional building methods. Its form is a conceptual reference to connections, specifically a mortise and tenon connection used in wood working, with the internal courtyard being the space created by the two buildings interlocking. The amount of usable covered and uncovered outdoor space is also unique to this project type.”
Hess Callahan Grey Group, Weber Thompson, and Spear Street Capital previously partnered to develop several other acclaimed projects including Seattle’s Watershed Fremont – winner of the 2020 NAIOP Washington Sustainable Office Development of the Year award.
Northlake Commons embodies the development ethos of everyone involved in the project, said John Grassi, Chief Executive Officer for Spear Street Capital. “This is a building where people will want to gather and be together. It’s purpose-built for the human experience. The visionary team is passionate about creating a space that launches a new model for innovative development. We are very excited to be a part of this project.”
The deep roots to community and a commitment to a more sustainable future are embedded in every aspect of the project. The development team has worked hand-in-hand-with the City of Seattle to incorporate the Burke-Gilman Trail into the northern entry plaza of Northlake Commons, enabling easy bicycle and pedestrian access, with over 200 bicycle parking spaces. Tenants can even kayak or paddleboard across Lake Union directly to the building and store their personal watercraft in dedicated spaces.
Joe Gowan and Lloyd Low of prominent Seattle real estate and investment firm JLL are serving as leasing brokers for the project.
“We think Northlake Commons can offer a special sense of community inside and out at a neighborhood scale,” said Mike Hess, Principal at Hess Callahan Grey. “It’s a chance for a company to signal a commitment to health, productivity, and enjoyment at the workplace. At the end the day, we believe Northlake Commons offers a compelling experience that will be worth leaving home for.”