October 26, 2006

Dream team designs downtown penthouses

  • Seven top architects are designing penthouses in their visions of the essence of downtown living.
    Avalon Holdings


    The idea to showcase Seattle’s top interior designers was not a new one. After all, Puget Sound’s Street of Dreams has promoted local development to residential buyers for 22 years. But to showcase Seattle’s top talent as a group, to concept multiple penthouse condominiums in a single setting but with seven different visions was something Seattle had yet to see.

    Top talent assembled

    Beyond the obvious marketing advantages, the penthouses at 1 Hotel and Residences, formerly known as Second + Pine, presented an opportunity to assemble the best design talent in the region, many of whom work nationally and internationally, and to commission work with limitless possibility, much as artists are commissioned.

    The expectation for design excellence had already been set: Sienna Architecture’s structure featured a base of polished dark green granite rising out of matching flamed-granite paving stones that supported a facade of limestone and green-hued glass curtain walls. The design is a testimony to the classic architecture of the surrounding neighborhood.

    The building’s public spaces, restaurant and hotel room interiors were all designed by internationally acclaimed design firm Yabu Pushelberg, most recently recipients of a Design Firm of the Year award from Interior Design magazine and inductees into the publication’s Hall of Fame.

    But what made this a rare experience for future residents was the opportunity to compare multiple interpretations of essentially the same space not swayed by the attractiveness of an existing structure, location or setting. In short, this was an opportunity to compare design talent solely on its merits and to select a designer whose vision most closely aligns with their own.

    Images courtesy of Avalon Holdings
    Garret Cord Werner’s vision for a bathroom.

    Defining a design aesthetic

    The showcase was about bringing a bigger vision to the community for what life in downtown Seattle could be. After all, the penthouses at 1 Hotel and Residences range in price from just over $2 million for a unit of about 2,200 square feet to around $11 million for a unit of 6,800 square feet. At that level, buyers expect something exceptional.

    This was also an opportunity to help define a Seattle design aesthetic much as the city has defined Northwest cuisine and to give these residences a greater sense of place — not so anonymous and easily transplanted to places like Hong Kong or Chicago.

    What resulted is both organic and elegant, a wide range of styles, from cutting-edge architecture and monochromatic palettes to the use of environmentally green and recycled materials. Some of the plans feature generous use of natural materials such as stone and wood that diminish the boundaries between interior and exterior, while others became cocooning respites from the hustle and bustle of the city. All feature a signature element or two, from leather doors and lap pools carved into ceilings to koi ponds and spa-inspired baths with tinted translucent walls.

    1 Hotel and Residences’ penthouses will be the stage for seven designers to show their stuff.

    The Seattle Seven

    The designers went through a juried selection process that began with recommendations from design media, realtors and local artists. They were then asked to submit samples of past work and a vision statement for downtown living.

    Seven designers were selected for commissions on the seven penthouses and instructed to develop their penultimate vision for downtown living.

    Each of the “Seattle Seven,” as they were quickly dubbed, started with an undefined and otherwise raw two-story shell that included 23-foot ceilings and the opportunity to creatively demise the floor to take advantage of the two-story glass spans revealing inspiring vistas of the city and the sound.

    What resulted was some of the most inventive and striking work this city has seen or is likely to see for years to come. Whether it’s eco-resin panels or luxurious, organic materials and fabrics, spa-like vestibules or reflecting ponds, these homes capture the essence of a private retreat at the center of a dynamic urban environment.

    The Seattle Seven

    Seven designers were selected for the showcase at 1 Hotel and Residences in downtown Seattle. Their work will be on display when the project’s sales center opens in February. The seven include:


    Nancy Burfiend, ASID, IIDA, an award-winning interior designer of commercial, public sector and high-end residential projects who has been widely published in regional and national magazines, including Metropolitan Home and Architectural Record. Most recently, Burfiend received a 2006 Seattle Design Center award.


    Christian Grevstad, IIDA, whose residential, retail and hospitality work has been recognized by numerous awards and publications such as Metropolitan Home and Traditional Home, and whose home furnishings line, the Christian Grevstad Collection Ltd., is represented by showrooms across the country.


    Steven Hensel, IFASID, who worked in collaboration with Eggleston Farkas Architects. In a professional career spanning nearly three decades, Hensel has designed interiors, furniture and textiles for an influential roster of private and corporate clients worldwide and has received numerous national and regional awards, including nine Northwest Design Awards in 2005 and being named to Seattle Homes & Lifestyles’ People, Places and Things That Define Seattle Design for 2006. His work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Vogue and the New York Times, among others.


    Jeff Lamb of Sienna Architecture Co., whose work has appeared in Western Interiors, Architecture magazine, Designer West, and on the Travel Channel and HGTV. Two of his recent projects received 2006 Seattle Design Center awards for Best Complete Residence Under $200,000 and Best Kitchen.


    Rocky Rochon, principal and founder of Rocky Rochon Design/Inside Inc., was named Interior Designer of the Year in 2005 by Seattle Homes & Lifestyles magazine and has won several design awards, including many from the American Institute of Architects. His work has appeared in publications such as Travel + Leisure and Vogue.


    Dixie Stark, founder and principal of Seattle-based DA Stark Interiors, brings more than a decade of design experience to her practice. In 2003, she was named one of House Beautiful’s Top Designers Under 40 and has been featured in Seattle Homes & Lifestyles magazine.

    Cord Werner

    Garret Cord Werner, founder and principal of Garret Cord Werner LLC, whose work has been featured in publications such as Better Homes & Gardens and was named one of the People, Places and Things That Define Seattle Design by Seattle Homes & Lifestyles. His projects have won frequent design awards for their use of avant-garde and environmentally friendly materials and fusion of “metropolitan necessities” such as storage, convenience and multi-use spaces.

    Paul Brenneke is president of Avalon Holdings, a Portland-based real estate development company that, in partnership with Starwood Capital Group Global LLC, is developing the full-block, mixed-use project at Second Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle.

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