Rainier Square’s updated design - May 2015
From the start, designers of the 59-story Rainier Square tower in the heart of downtown Seattle have proposed carving and scooping out portions of the building to create a unique, curving high-rise.
That’s still the plan, though the design team has tweaked the project to shift where these features will be placed. The public will learn more about Seattle architecture firm NBBJ’s plan at a Tuesday design review board meeting at City Hall. It’s the second time the board has reviewed the Rainier Square project.
Meanwhile, city officials have determined that the scope of the project, which also includes a 12-story hotel, is so big that it will have a significant impact on the environment. That means the project will require a deeper analysis, including an environmental impact statement (EIS).
But the project developer, Wright Runstad & Co., caught a break because the city has determined that the EIS done 10 years ago in conjunction with the big downtown rezone covers the project. However, Wright Runstad has prepared a short EIS addendum that’s under review.
The nearly full-block project at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and University Street will have a large amount of office space – 780,000 square feet, or about half the amount of space in Columbia Center, the city’s largest office tower.
Wright Runstad President Greg Johnson said Friday that the project team still is considering whether or not to start building before leasing any space to office tenants.
The latest plan is to start construction in the middle of next year, Johnson said. Last fall, the plan was to start construction at the end of this year on the project whose proposed cost Wright Runstad had pegged at $600 million.
Around 180 units of high-end housing, 155 hotel rooms, 71,000 square feet of retail and nearly 880 stalls of underground parking also are part of the project that will replace low-slung retail buildings that the developer says are outdated and partially occupied by struggling retail.
At the southeast corner of the block is the 38-year-old Rainier Square Tower. Known for its ultra-tapered pedestal, the tower will remain and serve as inspiration for the design of the new tower.
Under the previous design, a portion of the tower was carved from the northeast side of the tower. But at the urging of the design review board, that team has moved it to the southeast portion of the tower. This will allow better views of the current Rainier Square Tower’s iconic base.