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December 28, 2016

Skanska's 2+U tower moves ahead toward starting construction in 2017

Journal staff reporter

Image by Pickard Chilton Architects [enlarge]
This rendering shows 2+U from University Street, facing the open end of the alley, with the Diller Hotel on the right.

After submitting two slightly different plans for 2+U, a 38-story office tower at 1201 Second Ave., Skanska has received conditional approval for its preferred scheme that has more retail and pedestrian spaces at street level.

2+U will occupy about three quarters of the block bounded by First and Second avenues and University and Seneca streets.

At issue was the north-south alley, which Skanska had asked to partially close and convert to a pedestrian plaza where vehicles could occasionally turn around.

About a third of the alley would remain open on the north end, facing University. Underground parking for 476 vehicles would be accessed from Seneca.

The city council approved the partial alley vacation in September. This month the Department of Construction and Inspections granted design and SEPA approvals with minor conditions.

The public can appeal the decision through Thursday, after which permits could be issued.

The main structure in 2+U would have dramatic stilt-like support columns surrounding two levels of retail and restaurant space totaling about 24,000 square feet.

Five public passageways, some with stairs and viewpoints, would penetrate the block.

The site is mostly owned by the Samis Foundation, and Skanska has a 99-year lease. The existing old Samis buildings would be demolished to make way for 2+U. The Diller Hotel at First and University is separately owned and would remain.

2+U will have about 665,000 square feet of office space with a stair-stepped tower design. The lower mass (floor levels 7-19) will rise 267 feet above First, with a landscaped rooftop deck and small penthouse-like structure to enclose the elevators and mechanical systems.

The taller mass (levels 20-38) will rise almost 500 feet above Second. There would be a terrace on the top level, as well as space for mechanical systems.

Here is the 2+U team: design architect Pickard Chilton Architects of New Haven, project architect Kendall/Heaton Associates of Houston, landscape architect Swift Co. and retail designer Graham Baba Architects. Skanska will serve as its own general contractor.

If permits are issued, the project could start next year and be completed in 2019.