Arbora Court

A unique urban community in Seattle’s University District for low-income families to thrive.

Client Name

Bellwether Housing


Seattle, WA


Interior Design

Completion Date

Q1 2018


Evergreen SDS

Program Overview

7 Stories
138,494 GSF
133 Residential Units
40 Units for Formerly Homeless Families
Mix of Unit Types
113 Parking Stalls


2019 Gold Nugget Awards
Merit Award Winner
Best Affordable Housing Community – 60 du/acre or more

2018 NAIOP Night of the Stars
Affordable Housing Development of the Year


Jeff Reibman
Principal in Charge

Bernadette Kelly
Interior Design Principal

PhotoGRAPHY: Weber Thompson, Krista Welch Creative, Robert Wade Photography
Arbora Court

Thoughtfully integrated

Located near Seattle’s University of Washington campus, Arbora Court is integrated delicately into the surrounding context. In addition to a range of residential unit types, the building includes retail, office space for non-profit social service agencies, parking, grade-level residential flats and a lush streetscape.

Arbora Court

Family-size units

Seattle is in desperate need of affordable housing units large enough to accommodate families. To help alleviate this demand, University Christian Church and Bellwether Housing teamed up to develop an energy efficient affordable housing community with 40% of the units designed with two or three bedrooms for families.

Arbora Court

A friendly streetscape

The ground floor residential flats along 15th Avenue are pulled back from the street to create a vibrant pedestrian-scaled environment that’s human-scaled and provides a sense of home and safety. At the main corner, an artful entry ‘legacy’ panel welcomes residents and tells the story of the building and the unique partnership that made it possible. Wood-like slats and other natural durable materials are used to create a long-lasting, beautiful building.

Arbora Court

A private play court

Supporting Arbora Court’s focus on families, as well as the fact that it has been scientifically proven that access to outdoor green spaces boost cognitive development in children, an elevated courtyard with a play structure was built into the building. It’s centered around a significant tree that has been preserved on site, which provides a lush green canopy. A play place for children, and a gathering space for all residents, this communal space contributes to community building.


Weber Thompson worked with Walsh Construction and the rest of the project team to do a full sustainability analysis of every aspect of the building. Everything from waste management to wall assembly and air leakage strategies was examined to determine the sustainability benefit and economic impact of various construction practices and building systems. 

Through this analysis the team found many cost saving opportunities. For example, an analysis of trash chutes revealed that operationally they would be impractical. As a result they were removed, saving $40,000. The analysis also revealed that the up front costs of additional insulation, triple-glazed windows throughout, and a PV Array would offset long-term operational costs. As a result the building far exceeds code requirements and has a predicted EUI of 29 kBtu/sf/yr.

Arbora Court in the News

“Our vacancy rate is almost zero. Once a vacancy pops up it's taken almost immediately by a family who needs it.”

Susan Boyd, Bellwether Housing

“It was a very important act of missions for us to be present within the community. It’s come true, this dream we have had for so many years.”

Marsha T, UCC Congregation Member

“It was a great honor to help the UCC Congregation realize this dream they have had for so many years. Seeing the faces of the children who now have a place to call home is the reason I keep doing this. ”

Kirsten Clemens, Project Designer

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