Thursday, June 22, 2017

UPDATED: "Design Review Board" brings color to Redmond's Town Square District

Rendering of the Twin Towers showing the blue and green color scheme, brick material and roof line chosen by the Design Review Board.

This massive structure will be right across the street from Hancock's Bakery.

Opinion:  For years now, residents have complained about the dull earth tones, "box-like" construction, and absence of brick materials in our new Downtown 6-story buildings. Council often joked of their fatigue with the "browns and mustards" - Councilmembers Hank Myers and Kim Allen in particular. But nothing was done. 

Last week I went to the Design Review Board (DRB) meeting where "Color Options" were reviewed for the 9-story twin tower building proposed at the old post office the Town Square District.  The Town Square District is envisioned as high density, 6-8 story buildings, including office, entertainment, retail and residential use.  The towers are a signature building setting the stage for the design of future development in the District. Thus, what comes out from this Design Review will impact "look and feel" of the entire Town Square District for years to come.  

I was the only citizen that showed up for the twin-tower meeting and was given a wonderful opportunity to comment on color before the Board made their decision.  After looking at color schemes presented by the developer, Board and staff I recommended teal (blue) over red.  During our nine months of grey weather the blue will remind us of our sunny blue sky days of summer. The red scheme was eclectic and rich with too much pop.  

The Board decided to go with blue and a small amount of green at the street level. Oscar said blue was more sophisticated and red shouts.  Chair David Scott Mead -- very influential -- jokingly said he'd see the red from his house, summarizing the review with a blue-green "Go Seahawks!" cheer. Yey!  Watch the video.  Next step:  Oscar, the diminutive, likable project manager will meet with city staff to fine tune the color scheme.  He made it known he doesn't like "Northwest Moss" green wanting color with little more punch.  Yey again!  

The Board proceedings were very interesting. I'm grateful to the developer's architect for thanking me for my input. She made me feel I made a difference. I admire this developer and his commitment to form and aesthetics.   

I'm very unhappy with the city's severe lack of transparency with this body.  Though several times Councilmember Stilin advised the public to look into the DRB, it was only by luck that I learned the public can comment.  Without public comment the "look and feel" of our Downtown buildings are left up to just 7 citizens and a powerful staff - many not living in our city. "Design damage" is already done to the downtown core, though opportunity remains to get it right -- with public input -- during the Town Square District build-out and development of Marymoor Village.   

The Board meets on the first and third Thursday's of the month at 7PM, City Hall.  DRB approval is required before the land use permit is issued so your comments can significantly influence project outcomes.  To learn what's on the DRB agenda click this link and go to "Agendas Summaries" for 2017.  They don't make it easy! 

Bob Yoder

Read More for:  a YouTube of the DRB deliberating, Twin Tower design elements and a comment from city staff. >>

LAND-2016-02100, Redmond City Center

Description:  Construction of a nine-story mixed use building in two towers, with approximately 425 residential units and 49,000 sq. ft. of retail space
Location:  16135 NE 85th Street
Applicant:  Oscar Del Moro with Comos Development Company
Architect:  Robin Murphy with Sticker Cato Murphy Architects
Prior Review Dates:  12/05/13, 01/23/14, 03/05/15, 02/02/17 & 04/06/17  [many reviews!]
Staff Contact: Gary Lee, 425-556-2418 or
Review Materials:  Memo   Design Checklist   
Presentation Option 1     Presentation Option 2      
Architectural Plans   Lighting   Landscape  
Color Options   Color Options 1   Color Options 2

For a land use permit such as this Site Plan Entitlement, it requires the approval of the DRB and the Technical Committee.  Once the project has approval from both groups staff prepares an approval letter that states that the “City of Redmond’s Technical Committee and Design Review Board” have approved the project with the following conditions. It is this “approval letter” that gets mailed out to the applicant and all parties of record that can be appealed.

Emerald Heights is working with the surrounding neighborhood in an attempt to resolve some of their concerns.  At this time I am not certain when this project will be coming back before the DRB

--- Steve Fischer, City Development Manager


Richard Morris said...

The new building design is very good looking. But I can't imagine why Redmond's town residents would be concerned with the color of the new building. I am assuming that the great masses of people living downtown are Microsoft transient residents.

I looked up the address for this project 16135 NE 85th Street, and discovered this is the location of the "old post office" -- right next to the fire station! I think the name "Redmond Town Square" might refer to the shopping center across the 85th street , home of Hancock Bakery and Redmond Village Square Cafe at 16150 NE 85th St # 104, Redmond, WA 98052

Bob Yoder said...

Richard, the DRB memo states:

Comprehensive Plan Vision

The site is located within the Town Square district of the Downtown neighborhood. The intent
of this district is to encourage higher intensity, multi-story, developments. It is envisioned that new development in this district be 6 to 8 stories tall and include office, entertainment, and residential uses.

I like having some color on our buildings....especially with the grey that surrounds us in the winter.

Doug G said...

Looks better than those Russian style buildings.

Bob Yoder said...

A lady on Facebook brought up a very good point -- there are no women on the DRB. A couple of weeks ago the Mayor said he was moving a citizen board member to an architect position. So now it looks like he's searching for 2 citizen board members. Go for it ladies! I totally agree we need women on this Board.