Retail Shell Building Street View
retail shell building tenant entry
Retail building entry detail

Click on the photo for an enlarged version.

Seattle, Washington
Mark R. Blubaugh, architect

We are architects experienced with commercial tenant improvements, which gives us an informed perspective for designing new retail shell space. We made good use of our experience as the architects of this Seattle retail shell building. Located at an intersection designated in the Roosevelt neighborhood plan as the western gateway to the neighborhood, Roosevelt Gateway is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional neighborhood retail building. A clock tower at the corner provides definition to the gateway. Parking is located behind the structure, to allow the building to reinforce the street line as the traditional buildings do, while providing the parking required by contemporary codes and standards. The development is constructed as three separate structures to maintain the scale of the traditional neighborhood buildings. All the retail spaces have a ceiling height of at least 11 feet, and some are two story spaces with mezzanines. The design has proven very successful, with all the spaces the owner intended to lease to businesses they didn't own, leasing-up before the owner could finish construction. Meanwhile, retail spaces in more desirable locations in north Seattle sit empty. Tenants are predominantly desirable restaurant tenants, including the return of local landmark The Scarlet Tree jazz club at the corner space.

Major Considerations: The development needed to be as inexpensive as possible because it is intended to put the land to productive use until it becomes feasible to redevelop the land at a higher density. At the same time, it was important to the owners and the City’s design review panel that the building not look cheap. The design responds by using entirely wood frame construction enclosed with rainscreen type EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System), with accents of slate, ceramic tile, and structural steel metal canopies. The design includes many green retail building features. The design provides good natural light to the retail spaces through high ceilings, clerestory windows, and by using translucent canopies. The EIFS system provides increased energy efficiency over conventional construction. The ceiling insulation is located at the roof level so the interior mechanical unit and its ductwork can be entirely in the conditioned space, saving energy. The design includes some openable windows to allow natural ventilation for cooling. Tubular skylights save energy by replacing electric lighting part of the year. On-site storm water detention reduces pollution by releasing storm water slowly so the City system is not overwhelmed. Trellises on the building walls allow the limited soil area to support more planting to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The foundation design dealt with the existing unsuitable soils using an innovative rammed earth technology, which avoided a massive, disruptive excavation and numerous truck loads of exported soil and imported gravel.