The LEED Gold Certified four-building complex includes plenty of outdoor spaces and panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and Union Bay
Located in Seattle and designed by KieranTimberlake, the University of Washington’s North Campus Housing complex is intended to accommodate a community of two thousand students. The complex, which consists of four buildings and is LEED Gold certified, is much more than a simple student residence, however. It’s a place to meet, talk, eat, sleep, spend free time, and learn according to a multidisciplinary program.
The buildings that make up the North Campus Housing complex – McCarty Hall, Madrona Hall, Oak Hall, and Willow Hall – establish a continuity with the buildings of the historic campus, acting as a link between various existing areas. Oak Hall, in particular, continues along the axis of Frederick Law Olmsted’s original masterplan, now extended to the new Town Square, the fulcrum of KieranTimberlake’s project, around which the various blocks of residences are arranged in a radial pattern. Landscaping plays a key role in the project, as explained by David Feaster, principal at KieranTimberlake:
“The buildings were designed with the landscape and to navigate a very complex sloping site, while providing wheelchair accessibility to all spaces within all buildings. Green areas are intended to be occupied, while also creating views of nature from the interior social spaces aggregated at the ground levels. Native plantings aim to maintain and restore the site’s natural ecosystem as much as possible”.
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In terms of organization, student accommodation is on the upper levels, while the ground-level floor has community spaces, including a canteen, a small market, a café, and lounge areas. The latter, surrounded by large windows, are found both near the main entrance to the various buildings and on the edge of each floor, creating a lantern-like appearance at night with the lights on.
The complex also includes classrooms, a 300-seat space for events and conferences, and the McCarty Innovation Learning Lab (MILL). The product of collaboration between the UW College of Engineering and Housing & Food Services (HFS), this lab provides students and professors with a workspace with state-of-the-art equipment to stimulate creativity and passion for research.
As David Feaster explains, the functional distinction between the ground-level floor and the upper levels is underscored by the materials used for the façades:
“Western red cedar rainscreens are the dominant feature of the façades. They are largely on the buildings’ upper floors, with the ground-adjacent levels more liberally using glass for views and daylight. The buildings navigate the slope with a series of terraced brick and concrete plinths. The cedar rainscreens are detailed to naturally weather as evenly as possible. Accent colors are introduced on support members within the rainscreen assembly. The entire assemblage draws general inspiration from pattern-making within textiles and basketry of the Pacific Northwest”.
The North Campus Housing complex also features an outdoor games area and was designed to maximize green spaces. The buildings were designed so that the interiors have an optimal level of natural light, while offering views of the Cascade Mountains and Union Bay. Willow Hall has a rooftop terrace garden with a lunch area, while Madrona Hall has a large canopy that screens the floor-to-ceiling windows and provides shade for the area below with bench seating. The project combines built spaces intended for study and socializing with the natural landscape of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of the university’s students and staff.
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Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Client: University of Washington
General Contractor: WG Clark & Absher Construction
Associate Architect (Dining Interiors): Graham Baba
Associate Architect (Local CA Support): GGLO
Civil: KPFF Consulting
Telecommunications & AV: TFWB Engineers
Lighting: Fisher Marantz Stone
LEED: O'Brien & Company
Elevators: Elevator Consulting Service
Door Hardware: Adams Consulting and Estimating, LLC
Photography by Bruce Damonte and Matthew Millman, courtesy of KieranTimberlake