In 2016, one of Ankrom Moisan's founders reached out to the Marketing team to create an internal newsletter that would help keep the firm's three offices better connected. The following article was published in the Spring 2017 edition, highlighting an important new high-rise project being designed in Seattle.
What’s in a Name? Sometimes, a whole building.
When approaching [redacted] RFP for a new residential tower at the corner of [redacted] in Seattle, our team drew upon previous experience with the developer. A deep understanding of the client’s project goals and a preliminary, internal charrette led to the concept: Chasmophyte.
A single word that describes a plant growing in the crevices of rocks, Chasmophyte epitomized the focus on nature, sustainable systems, distinct materials, and—most importantly—an “anti-podium” approach. The design that accompanied this word, and ultimately won us the project, called for a two-building scheme with green space between a large tower and a smaller building.
However, a few weeks after winning the project, the client had explored the two-building scheme and discovered that the dual cores didn’t fit within their budgetary constraints.
“They liked the idea of integrating nature in some form that enhances the sustainability story,” explained Design Principal Jen Sobieraj-Sanin, “so we went through a huge visioning exercise with the client so they could start thinking of the feeling of the place and the experience—in a fun way.”
Utilizing a “Mad Libs” exploration of adjectives, the team created four main word pillars that could encapsulate everything the client wanted in the project. According to Sobieraj-Sanin, “Behind the scenes, we started thinking about concept ideas that could support the pillars, which are basically their goals and aspirations for the project.” The architectural and interiors teams worked closely together to complete massing studies and develop five concepts.
Ultimately, one of the studies that created a series of terraces at the base of the building melded with the word pillars and concept imagery to become Cascade. “The reference to the Pacific Northwest and the relation to both the architecture and the units just made sense—we pitched it to the client, and they loved it,” Sobieraj-Sanin recounts.
As the team moves into DDs, the focus now turns to refining the skin of the building and digging into the unit plans for this 44-story building. “The big moves are done, now it’s just making everything better,” said Sobieraj-Sanin. Inspired by the imagery of water flowing around a rock, a unit design charrette with the client will generate ideas for a special moment in the units—central elements that will drive the flow within.
The one piece that won’t be touched before permitting? Amenities. Since the client has not set a date yet for construction, Sobieraj-Sanin explains, “we’re holding off on the amenities because residential buildings are constantly one-upping each other, and if it sits on the shelf too long, the program won’t be relevant.” For now, the team is challenged with designing around bubble diagrams and working with the general contractor to provide live pricing as the client watches the market.