Built in the early 1900s, the historic Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Co. represents a pivotal moment in Seattle’s transition from settlement town to industrial metropolis. A century later, its dynamic, design-driven neighborhood, Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor, has witnessed an apartment boom and a need arose to make the historic landmark functional as modern creative office and retail spaces. Legacy Capitol Hill is an adaptive reuse and rehabilitation project that thoughtfully responds to current local pressures.
Our design connects the distinct historical identity of the original structure with organic infill elements and discreet additions above, providing 71,500 sq. ft. of new office space and retaining 13,500 sq. ft. of retail. Restoration of the distinctive exterior and preservation of both structural and interior elements—blending old with new—became the driving force in this project.
On the street-facing façade, the brick cladding signature to Capitol Hill’s historic “Auto Row” buildings was re-pointed and cleaned, as were the distinctive, vibrant green ceramic tile designs. We were thrilled to uncover the original “Kelly-Springfield” inlaid tile sign and bring it back to life to demarcate the main entry. Looking up, one existing Chicago-style wood window served as the template to recreate the forty-paned features with operable salvaged center-pivots for the second floor.
The most significant restoration effort went into adapting and preserving the exposed, heavy-timber post and beam structure for aesthetic quality and structural function. Research and guidance from the European building code allowed us to efficiently develop and get approval to use the Timber Concrete Composite (TCC) method, making Legacy Capitol Hill one of the first North American projects with this innovative hybrid structural solution. Now, wood columns remain the primary support structure for the 2nd floor, while concrete columns punch through to support the stories above.
Set back 20 feet from the main façade, the new addition is modern and minimalist, a quiet backdrop emphasizing the historic entrance. The sleek German curtain wall system includes operable windows that increase ventilation and reduce draft for a pleasant environment inside. The roof deck offers views of a nearby destination, Cal Anderson Park. For this urban infill building enclosed on three sides, we created vistas in areas without views: Aligning a large window with the vibrant, abstract mural nextdoor delivers visual interest and connects office workers to Capitol Hill’s artistic energy. Our interior designers played up a sense of drama in darker regions, using nuanced colors, textures, and materials with authentic grittiness. People arriving to work pass through an elevator corridor featuring exposed wood ceilings and floor to ceiling black tile, a material choice that echoes the antique exterior tiling. Shadows from gothic-inspired chandeliers overhead emphasize the dark tiles’ rich distressed lace texture.
A historic landmark—once home to REI’s flagship store and the Value Village where Macklemore filmed a music video—can seem like a daunting, even risky, challenge. Our innovative, respectful rehabilitation gave the empty structure a new life with the modern amenities and functionality that meets present and future needs.