Photo of Mercy Othello Plaza
Photo of Mercy Othello Plaza
Photo of Mercy Othello Plaza
Photo of Mercy Othello Plaza
Photo of Mercy Othello Plaza

Mercy Othello Plaza

Affordable Housing in South Seattle

We see every affordable housing project as an opportunity to create healthier, more resilient communities. By exploring regional environmental, economic, and cultural conditions, we find the right project solution for any given circumstance. Mercy Othello was our solution for a key site near Sound Transit’s Othello Station. Its design connects the city’s expectations, the needs of Seattle’s low-income households, and the mission of Mercy Housing Northwest in a 6-story transit-oriented development. Just one block north of the light-rail Othello Station, site is within a ten-minute walk of parks and playgrounds, schools, grocery stores, cultural centers, a library, medical clinics, and much more. The 2018 Gold Nugget Merit Award-winner includes 108 affordable one- two- and three-bedroom apartments. Mercy Housing Northwest offices on ground level strengthen the neighborhood by providing a long-term anchor tenant in this new mixed-use building. As a result, Mercy Housing now has a greater presence in the community and is more accessible to those who could benefit from their work.

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Seattle, Washington
COMPLETED IN 2017
  • 108 units
  • 6 stories
  • 112,241 sq. ft.
MARKET

Housing

DISCIPLINES

Architecture , Interiors , Planning

PROJECT TYPE

Affordable Housing

PROJECT CONTACT

Architecture: Mack Selberg

Interiors: Heather Hayes

Planning: Will Grimm

housing@ankrommoisan.com


Architecture Story

Designed to the Rhythm of Transit

When it comes to housing, we see it as our responsibility to create high-quality places people are proud to call home—within any budget, location, or timeline. At Mercy Othello Plaza, we created 108 affordable homes by working closely with our client and the city to obtain entitlement and permits in a rapid 11.5 months. The financing package and the design were developed simultaneously, and two separate structures made the most of a tight budget. Access to public transportation is critical for many Seattle residents, especially those without cars. Mercy Othello Plaza is designed to connect residents to the rhythm of the nearby transit center. Built on a triangular site, the two buildings are oriented toward the light rail station. Residents can walk to the end of each corridor and see the station, watch trains arrive, and catch theirs on time. Mercy Othello catches each commuter eye with bold red and white stripes on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Lighter building masses at the site corners anchor each building and flank the residential entry between them. Thick, 2X8 walls in in both buildings make Mercy Othello an energy-efficient and quiet home, with air-infiltration quality on par with Passive House design. Reinforced windows on the transit and MLK side also keeps inside spaces quiet. Stacked units, vertical circulation cores, and thorough building envelope and ventilation strategies ensure a quality design that is affordable to build, maintain, and operate. When residents are ready to join and make some noise, they have a multi-purpose community space on the second level that spills out onto the upper level courtyard through an operable partition. There’s also a community kitchen, computer workstations, and Mercy Housing Northwest offices that bring together residents and the outside community for after school programs and ESL classes.

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Interior Story

Adaptable Community Design

Mercy Othello Plaza is a multicultural community of 108 households, each supported by on-site services from Mercy Housing Northwest. Our primary design goal was to offer residents opportunities to come together as a community outside of their apartments. The 6-story, mixed-use home has centralized indoor and outdoor shared spaces that adapt to community needs. The heart of the development is a large community room on the second floor. Designed to be as adaptable as possible, residents and the public use the space as a classroom, a dance hall, and an event space. A partition in the center creates flexible space for after school programs, ESL classes, and other events. Mercy Housing Northwest leads classes and training in the adjacent community kitchen and computer room. The second-floor community space spills out onto the upper level courtyard, where children can be easily supervised as they use the playground, giving parents peace-of-mind. The entry, community room, and upper-level patio area all open to southern sun and face an exterior plaza that extends into an existing transit stop plaza. Lighter colors in the courtyard make it feel large and reflect natural light. Mercy Housing Northwest moved their offices into the new commercial space on the ground level along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, further strengthening the neighborhood by providing a long-term anchor tenant in this new mixed-use building.

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Planning Story

Creating Connections

Many residents for Mercy Othello Plaza don’t own a car, so proximity to transit is critical for commuting to and from work and school. The 108 homes are also within a ten-minute walk of parks and playgrounds, schools, grocery stores, cultural centers, a library, medical clinics, and much more. As this rapidly developing neighborhood continues to take shape, Mercy Othello Plaza helps set the stage. Outside, continuous overhead canopies protect people from the rain on the sidewalk along the building as they walk to and from the train station. We worked hard to align our design with the city’s expectations for the area. As a result, Mercy Housing now has a greater presence in the community and is more accessible to those who could benefit from their work.

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