Cornish Commons is the DJC Building of the Year

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January 25, 2016

Cornish Commons is the DJC Building of the Year

“The yellow stripe really does it for me,” said one reader.

“Fabulous — love the yellow!” said another.

Apparently DJC readers like a little splash of color in their buildings — as they voted the yellow-panel-clad Cornish Commons 2015 Building of the Year.

“As an art school, the building needed to make a statement through its bold use of color, but we measure its success not simply by the beauty of its architecture, but rather the community it helps create,” said Murray Jenkins, principal-in-charge at Ankrom Moisan, the project architect. “Cornish Commons not only provides housing for Cornish’s students but also creates a campus living room that gives all students access to social, academic, and art-enriching rehearsal and classroom spaces.”

Cornish Commons is a 20-story residence hall and academic building at 2025 Terry Ave. in the Denny Triangle neighborhood of Seattle. It is the new home to students from Cornish College of the Arts, and some of the dorms are being rented to City University of Seattle students.

Photos copyright Ankrom Moisan Architects/Casey Braunger, courtesy of Cornish

Photos copyright Ankrom Moisan Architects/Casey Braunger, courtesy of Cornish

Cornish Commons has a splash of yellow running up its side, around its top and at its base. About half of one side of the building, hidden in this photo, is covered in yellow panels.

A student lounge on the top has glass walls and is open to the sky.

A student lounge on the top has glass walls and is open to the sky.

A yellow vertical stripe runs to the building’s top floor, which has a glass-enclosed student lounge with double-height windows. Also on top is a kitchen, cushy chairs, a fitness room, laundry, practice rooms for performers, studio art space, a garden, and views of Lake Union, the Space Needle and Puget Sound.

The residence hall is on floors four through 19 of the 156,000-square-foot building. Rooms have one, two or three beds, as well as a bathtub in the bathroom so dancers and other performers can soak. In all, there are 438 beds in 224 units.

Each floor has a lounge and kitchenette, and some have dry-erase walls for impromptu drawing.

The base of the building is the college’s “living room,” with a fireside lounge and student life and counseling offices. Above that is movement studios, conference rooms, practice space and art studios.

The project has been certified gold in the LEED for Homes (multifamily mid-rise) category.

Capstone Development Partners of Birmingham, Alabama, said it developed Cornish Commons at a cost of $49.6 million, excluding the land.

A joint venture of Capstone and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, a Chicago private equity fund, lease the site from the college and own the building.

Cornish manages student services, and Capstone On-Campus Management, a Capstone company, manages the building. When the ground lease expires in 2056, ownership of the building will revert to the college.

The runners up

It was tough narrowing the list of projects for the DJC’s Building of the Year contest — the initial tally had 44 projects. Then it was up to DJC readers to pick a winner from among the top 10 selected by the DJC.

Cornish received 32 percent of the vote.

Coming in second place, with 20 percent, was the 136-unit Walton Lofts apartment building in Seattle. The Walton team was led by Shoesmith Cox Architects, Via Architecture and Turner Construction. The Schuster Group is the owner.

Allen Institute came in third, with 14 percent. The 270,000-square-foot research building in Seattle was designed by Perkins + Will and built by GLY Construction. Vulcan Real Estate is the owner.

What the voters said:

“Beautiful new building devoted to the life of the mind in downtown Seattle!”

“This building is gorgeous on the skyline but not obtrusive.”

“Students living downtown Seattle — how cool is that!”

“Love the fireplace on the first floor — a natural magnet for meeting and talking.”

“I love this tower in changing light conditions.”

“This adds such a bright spot to the triangle and abounds with youthful energy.”

“Love the splash of color in the Westlake high-rise landscape!”

“The contractors were very respectful of the neighborhood.”

“Love the 20th floor! Great use of the view and the space.”