google Lakefront Blocks

Situated between two hills near the lake’s edge, Lakefront Blocks serves as a gateway between the waterfront and the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle. The development includes 638,000 SF office, 10,000 SF retail, and 150 residential units across two full city blocks, making a significant mark on the urban fabric in the neighborhood.

Location

Seattle, WA

TYPOLOGY

Office, Urban Housing

Client

Vulcan Real Estate / Google

DESIGN PARTNERS

Graphite Design Group

SIZE

2 blocks

South Lake Union’s thriving urban office neighborhood draws leading companies to Seattle. For Lakefront Blocks – Google’s new home in Seattle – HEWITT integrated landscape architecture with urban design principles for walkability and human scale to craft a hallmark mixed-use destination along the southern edge of Lake Union.

 

Urban Connective Tissue

Over the past decade, the South Lake Union neighborhood transformed dramatically, with only a few remaining undeveloped blocks–two of which came to be Google Lakefront Blocks. As the missing link between the neighborhood and the park, the streetscape functions as connective tissue.

  • Boren and Terry Ave extend the Park’s welcome to Mercer Street, providing dynamic contrast to the dense urban neighborhood beyond.
  • Rows of trees and expansive bioretention planters create a human scaled experience on the heavily trafficked streets of Fairview and Mercer.
  • The elevated boardwalk along Valley strengthens the visual connection to the park and lake while providing additional public circulation space.

 

 

 

Sustainability spotlight

A Filter to the Lake’s Edge

As the last opportunity to slow urban stormwater before it reaches the southern edge of Lake Union, the landscape response showcases bioretention planters throughout the two block site as grounding elements through the campus.

Park Extension – Terry Avenue

The active Terry Avenue corridor is one of the primary pedestrian corridors connecting people in the neighborhood to South Lake Union Park and the waterfront.  Focused on walkability and designed with human-scale details, the streetscape brings the park setting to Mercer Street and features a stylized “logjam” where passersby can catch a sunbreak.

Park Extension – Boren Avenue

The lushly planted Boren Avenue corridor offers a quieter experience with ample seating and views to the lake. The opportunity to integrate a rich planting approach to both sides of the street transforms the streetscape into an immersive garden passage.

The Elevated Boardwalk

Turning a high water table into a design advantage, this perched “boardwalk” blurs the public private boundary offering a secondary pedestrian pathway that accentuates Lake Union Park views. Celebrating connections between the boardwalk and sidewalk, the frontage features signature “gangway” bridges and gently sloping walks with integrated seating to encourage lingering.

Humanizing Fairview and Mercer

The walk along the busy street edge of Mercer Street is buffered with understory trees and Fairview Avenue is calmed by a cascade of bioretention planters that collect and filter stormwater while providing needed visual relief at a civic scale.

A Tour of the Logjam

As a nod to the historic timber mill that was once at the edge of the lake, the sculptural “logjam” invites people to sit, climb, and play. A grand, sculptural gesture leading into the park, the logjam is a prime spot to soak up the afternoon sun. Video courtesy of the fabricators, Architectural Elements.