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Columbia Gardens, Seattle, WA, USA

Studio Woodroffe Papa were commissioned to deliver architectural and urban design guidelines for the transformation of a ‘brownfield’ site into a 75,000m2 mixed-used development with residential, hotel, leisure and business accommodation. The hilltop location at the heart of an emerging live/work district in South Seattle offers 360-degree panoramic views of Seattle, Puget Sound, Lake Washington waterways, the Deschutes River Valley and Sea-Tac international airport. The design brief presented both opportunities and challenges: to spatially transform an unattractive industrial site to offer outstanding leisure and residential facilities on a steeply sloping site while avoiding a proliferation of access roads, servicing lanes and unattractive drop-off areas.

1 - Sports facilities
2 - Amphitheatre
3 - Tranquil garden
4 - Court yard
5 - Sunken garden

6 - Office lower plaza
7 - Landscaped slope + stair
8 - Boardwalk
9 - Viewing deck
10 - Hotel court yard

11 - Roof top pool club
12 - Natural landscape hill
13 - Lower pond
14 - Green buffer
15 - Reserved forest

Our proposals to transform the site are grounded in an organisation of movement that runs both parallel and perpendicular to the sloping hillside. This grid of movement ensures that buildings do not become isolated. Connections to the surrounding neighbourhood are enhanced; spatial qualities are diversified and amplified. Our approach to place making integrates circulation and landscaping with building interiors. The multi-levelled ground is conceived as a series of linked activity spaces that define the life and character of the different clusters, and by organising the buildings perpendicular to the hillside topography, a clear spatial hierarchy is established in the plan.


In this example of cluster formation, the organization of service roads and pedestrian routes allows for a richer sequence of pedestrian friendly spaces along the brow of the hill, creating connections and integrating diverse, leisure environments that are pedestrian-based and rich in amenities. A park located on top of the hill benefits from panoramic views across the valley and functions as a focus for civic and recreational amenities, public events and communal gatherings.

Columbia Gardens, Seattle, WA, USA



ITW Holding LLC


540 sqm residential space, 120,000 sqm hotel, 60,00 sqm indoor sports facilities, 24,000 sqm YMCA

Site area

9 ha

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