With light rail coming to the area in the next decade, the West Seattle Junction neighborhood is set to face a confluence of established community meeting fast expansion. Young, career-focused, tech-savvy individuals and couples will be attracted by the convenience of city living combined with the comfort of small-town safety and a slower pace of life. 4747 California bridges old and new, history and future. The mixed-use building contains 79 residential units and 6,500 square feet of retail space anchored by Huskey Deli, a family-owned business that has called this neighborhood home since 1932.
Our core design goal was modernizing and refreshing the existing look and feel to maintain a sense of belonging and authenticity between the new construction and longtime retail on the street. We embraced the idea of designing for Huskey Deli, drawing inspiration from this community institution’s iconic, albeit dated faux Bavarian style architecture. A white textured brick on the ground floor with white, grey, and black paneling and warm wood accents above recalls the high contrast color palette of Huskey Deli’s original interior Upper levels are carefully constructed to eliminate visible venting on the street-facing façade, creating a high-end look that highlights the diagonal joint lines of the high density fiber cement paneling – a subtle reference to the old deli’s faux Bavarian half-timbering.
Matching the existing parapet height of neighboring retail buildings on California Avenue creates seamlessness with its surroundings. Stepping the residential floors back from the street edge preserves the pedestrian experience along this important retail avenue. The ground floor design is enhanced with rich brick detailing, operable storefront windows, curved glass corner windows, and specialty lighting. Canopies and seating around the exterior invites friends to gather outside, rain or shine, like they have for decades at the ice cream counter inside. Signage from the original Huskey Deli has been preserved, while a vintage-style mural of California Avenue pays homage to one of the same subject that adorned this site’s previous building. More than an aesthetic treatment, the murals evoke familiarity and continuity since many buildings in West Seattle are decorated with art.
The residential entrance is tucked away from the sidewalk, allowing the retail corner to stand out prominently while apartment occupants have a more private, gradual transition between home and bustling shops. A trellis, second mural, and skylight just through the entry door bring the outside and inside together in the lobby as well.
The overall form of the building above the ground floor retail is dictated by the layout of the interior residential units. Working from inside out allowed our design team to prioritize thoughtfully and intentionally maximizing the square footage of this small site. The units are compact and functional – designed to address important user needs, like adequate storage, that are often neglected in studios and one-bedrooms. Residents are not stuck inside their apartments though. Amenities include a meeting room and lounge by the entrance and a clubroom with kitchen, dining, and entertainment spaces. Despite the small stature of this mid-rise, we positioned the lush roof deck to frame stunning views to the southwest of nearby natural treasures, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
A collaborative effort between community leaders, developers, and designers with deep ties to West Seattle Junction, 4747 California is instilled with a respect for the neighborhood and its beloved Huskey Deli. Thoughtful design intertwines familiarity and functionality to take advantage of everything this one-of-a-kind site has to offer and establish a positive pattern for future development along California Ave.