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FEATURES: Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, Design Innovation, Materials Efficiency, Storm Water Infiltration, Green Roof, Small Footprint, Equity Endeavor
CERTIFICATIONS: Built Green
Rapidly escalating construction costs in Seattle have resulted in high volume, low quality market rate housing. 2019 construction costs in Seattle were the sixth highest in the world, averaging $338/SF, and the high cost of construction has led to a proliferation of generic production housing, transforming Seattle into neighborhoods of hermetically sealed hardi-panel faux modern boxes, built of low-cost materials and disconnected from the outdoors. Tsuga Townhomes set out to resolve this paradox of low cost and high quality, working to achieve excellent sustainable design while balancing the construction cost proforma. The 3-unit urban infill project was completed at a cost of $185 per square foot–a 54% reduction in cost from the Seattle average, while raising the bar for design and sustainability. Using design to maneuver complicated development restrictions, the project fit 3 dwellings on a 5,040 square foot site that was designated an environmentally critical area steep slope. The site plan, which includes a series of green roofs and bioretention planters, captures rainwater for plantings and reduces runoff. The design team selected energy efficient mechanical systems, went beyond the code for insulation, and achieved Four Star Built Green certification.
In order to achieve their design goals and cost targets, the architects were their own client-purchasing the land and developing and building the project themselves. In typical developer housing, the focus is on minimizing design costs. More creative possibilities for materials, spatial layouts, and detailing were achieved by linking architecture with development. Acting as architect, developer, and contractor, the architects were able to work directly with the fabricators and tradespeople, creating efficiencies and opportunities for more custom and higher quality design and details at a lower price.