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Glisan Commons' design tweaked

The south view of Glisan Commons Phase II, the second building of a cooperative housing and headquarters project by three non-profit agencies that includes a total of 125 units of low-income and senior housing and RIDE Connection headquarters.
More private spaces for seniors to chat or read, sturdier building materials, more pedestrian-friendly pathways are just a few of the details architects recently added to the Phase II design of the Glisan Commons complex at Northeast 99th Avenue and Glisan Street.

Design Commission review members sparked many of the changes when they met with architects last July in an informal hearing to discuss Phase II of the complex. The formal approval hearing is expected sometime in December. Construction of Phase I of the complex is scheduled for completion by early February 2014. It includes ground floor offices for Ride Connection, a nonprofit that provides free transportation for seniors, and 65 units of low-income housing, operated by Human Solutions.

REACH Community Development Corporation operates Phase II, a $9.4 million, 60-unit apartment building for people 55 and older. Construction begins February 2014 and is expected to be completed around February 2015.

Commission members suggested removing some of the common use balconies just off the laundry room of the apartment complex, figuring they would not get much use. Architects removed them but left the individual balconies at each apartment unit, as well as a common use balcony located at the second-floor raised plaza, which contains a community garden space. Designers also added large gathering spaces in the ground floor courtyard, as well as smaller bench seating areas for people to gather one or two at a time.

“Now we have both a common use space for people to interact with each other and promote community, and individual balconies at private units so there's a private space as well,” said Ben White, the project's lead architect with Carleton Hart Architects, designers of the complex.

Landscaping, benches and raised planters were added near the main entrance off Northeast 99th Avenue.

“It's really enhancing the pedestrian experience now,” White said.

Architects also reduced the number of materials used and applied them with more regularity, creating “more rigor and simplicity,” White said.

Because the commission questioned the use of so much inexpensive cement panel siding, White said designers added “more durable cement lap siding as well as metal panel siding and brick, which has more durability.” They also removed the columns wrapped in James Hardie siding, which members thought flimsy.

Designers also lined up the windows vertically between the upper and lower floors to “emphasize the primary entrance,” White said, creating the regularity commission members wanted.

The firm has requested two city code modifications: one to add 70 long-term bike racks inside the building, and four short-term racks outside, one more than the code requires; and a second to allow landscaping as a buffer and an extended sidewalk on Northeast 99th Avenue.
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