Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) is building housing and a clinic for people who have experienced homelessness and have disabilities. Nakano Associates is part of the design team and providing landscape design for the urban streetscape and outdoor community spaces. The new housing will be built in two phases, the first providing 85 affordable studio apartments and the second providing approximately 92 units as well as the integrated physical and behavioral healthcare clinic that will serve both residents and the community at large.
The project includes a completely new streetscape, adding sidewalks and improving the pedestrian environment in this rapidly changing part of North Rainier Valley. Given the lack of sidewalks, street trees and pedestrian amenities in the neighborhood, the project to sets a good example for developments to come. Plantings, pedestrian lighting and seating provide a welcoming sense of home for the residents. The calm, green environment is a needed urban refuge in contrast to nearby busy Rainier Ave in this historically underserved neighborhood.
The landscape design encourages community life by providing a variety of seating areas at building entrances and in the courtyard. Open and covered amenity areas with space for interaction and gathering are geared toward small groups. The lushly planted interior courtyard provides a safe and peaceful outdoor area important for formerly homeless individuals. Accessible routes of travel and inclusion of accessible seating serve people of all abilities.
The design of the building is inspired by the prior long-term glass works business that was on the site. Sharply angled lines integrate design of the building and landscape and recall the site’s history. The façade design and color choices, planter shapes, paving joints and selection of site furnishings all reflect this theme.
The project handles all stormwater on site through green roofs and stormwater planters. Drought-tolerant plantings and green screens contribute toward the sustainability goals of the project. The integrated urban design of this project provides four season interest and leads in socially and environmentally sustainable redevelopment of the North Rainier Valley.
Client: Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)
Architect: Runberg Architecture Group