Arbor Blocks

Comprised of a pair of office/commercial buildings with 200,000 SF of office space and a tree-lined woonerf, prioritized for cyclists and pedestrians, this development showcases the unique opportunity to create an outdoor living room in the midst of the rapidly densifying neighborhood of South Lake Union.


Seattle, WA




Vulcan Real Estate


Graphite Design Group / STUDIOS


2 blocks



The initial green street plan for 8th Avenue called for this block to be a central outdoor room for the street, which dead ends to the north at Mercer and to the south at Denny Park. The expense of rebuilding the roadway was busting the budget for completing the plaza connection across the roadway. Working with the developer and multiple City Agencies, a first-of-its-kind public/private partnership, approved by City Council, was formed allowing fees to be directly used for construction.

The design team took advantage of the green street designation to push beyond SDOT standard requirements, allowing for the curving road geometry, narrow road width and the curbless street profile. Experience working closely with the agency on other innovative streetscapes built trust and created an environment focused on collaborative problem-solving, ensuring a safe, low-maintenance design that preserved as many of the existing trees as possible.

A Green refuge

Conceived around the central idea of a green refuge in the midst of a dense, urbanizing neighborhood, this corridor places people and nature first.

  • The existing mature Sweetgum trees are retained providing a lush setting to be enjoyed by the office tenant and neighborhood residents.
  • The pair of buildings inflect to embrace the trees and make room for a variety of open spaces.
  • The 8th Avenue roadway width was minimized to prioritize pedestrian and bike use of the open space. The road alignment has a gentle “wiggle” – to put automobiles in a secondary role, slow traffic, and define two public plaza spaces.
  • The Sun Lounge, with sculptural seating beneath the preserved trees, takes advantage of sunny southwest exposure. The Shade Garden, decking surrounded by woodland vegetation and artwork by Jun Kaneko, sits in contrast.
  • A tailored pattern in the ground plane visually links the building lobbies.