It seems to me that the travesty is not the building illustrated above but is the objection to this perfectly-reasonable urban neighborhood proposal. Unfortunately Seattle is filled with many well-meaning but poorly-informed people.
More about this example see No Density In My Backyard.
The rendering above shows the mixed-use building proposed for 1126 34th Ave in the Madrona neighborhood. As reported here and here, there has been significant opposition to the project from the neighbors....Apparently the overarching complaint is that the building is too big — “enormous compared to its neighbors” according to the Madrona News. True, it is taller than the one and two story buildings on that side of the block.
It's a three story building (commercial at grade with two residential/commercial floors above ) and the top of the parapet is about 35.5' above the sidewalk, hardly a large building but this is Seattle, and Madrona is particularly Seattle. So some neighbors are against this project because it is too big. And
people think we are going to be able to deal with the challenges of
making our city sustainable. Sheesh.
A particularly noteworthy element in the design, so far as I can tell from the plans, is the use of some sort of "green wall" steel grid set off from the building structure to which plants will be attached and grow. Terrific idea! (and very expensive.) I think that the Henry Branch Library on Capitol Hill has such a growing green wall if anyone is curious to see how it looks.
In response to a comment from Fnarf concerning the City granting the permit: I suspect that the City _will_ simply issue the permit; in fact it would shock me if they don't. This project appears to comply with the letter of the Land Use Code as well as its spirit and many broader City Goals; and there are some level heads down at DPD.
But the idea that such a worthy building would be even remotely contentious is disturbing. This sort of project is exactly the sort of thing we should be building all over Seattle. The Mayor and other politicos should be calling up the developer and architect and urging them on. The neighbors should be saying "Fabulous!"
Good grief, haven't folks in Madrona ever heard of climate change? And the need for us to lower our carbon footprints? etc etc (I assume that I don't have to draw out the connection for readers of this blog.) Plus, the even more important point, urban walkable neighborhoods are more fun.
I don't mind the City and the neighbors (i.e. individuals with a legitimate interest in a well-designed project) demanding that the plans be thought-through carefully. That adds value for everyone in the long run. But there should be no doubt whatsoever from the outset that the developer should be allowed to build per the code. Design Review shouldn't be a back-door way to try to stop a project, which it too often is in the minds of some neighbors.
Btw, that seems to me to be the fair quid pro quo: the developer is assured of being able to build per code (with "if, and & buts" only in extremis) BUT the neighbors (under the organized aegis opf the City) get serious input on the details the building's design. That's the larger political context and trade-off. The developer is assured of getting a permit (and rather quickly — far quicker than now) AND neighbors (not neighborhood) get a meaningful chance to influence the proposal's details and finishes etc etc
As Dominic Holden aptly puts it in The Stranger:
Jeez, persnickety neighbors, that block is an arterial zoned for mid-rise, mixed-use development—because 34th and Union is the neighborhood center. That parking lot’s destiny was to become a multi-story, multi-use development. The proposal could have sucked. But, instead, it’s beautiful, using natural materials and an environmentally sustainable design. Count your blessings.