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Guidebook outlines downtown development styles

  • Written by Bill Lewis

A draft of a city guide to development calls on Woodinville to emphasize brick facades and exposed wood in downtown buildings that evoke a “forest and farm” theme and reflects the city’s rural surroundings.

City Council members reviewed a draft of the Downtown Vision and Illustrative Guide at their July 11 meeting, an early step in development of the document intended to serve as a blueprint for downtown commercial projects.

Work on the document comes at “a very distinct turning point in the downtown’s development,” as the city adds new housing stock, contemplates revamping the Old Schoolhouse on Northeast 175th Street and makes plans for a new downtown Civic Plaza, said Bob Bengford, a partner at Makers Architecture, Planning and Urban Design of Seattle, hired last year by the city to work on the development guide.

Key styles, material

The draft recommends that new downtown development be characterized by specific types of architectural styles: Northwest contemporary architecture that includes wood structures, expansive windows and deep overhangs; understated lodge-style buildings; and agrarian rural-contemporary structures built in a farmhouse style, such as the Woodinville Whiskey Co. building on Redmond-Woodinville Road.

Builders should be discouraged from building structures with “kitchy, contrived designs,” especially in the development of lodge-style structures, Bengford said.

The guide also recommends that the city encourage pedestrian-friendly development and designs that preserve large trees and incorporate trees into the design of commercial spaces.
The building guide recommends four key elements of building materials that should be used in future downtown development:

Exposed wood “as a character-defining feature” of new downtown buildings

Locally produced wood products and locally sourced stone and rock building components

Brick as secondary-façade material on some buildings and the primary material on multi-building developments, or as a contrast to other buildings

Metal, concrete block, cement board and exterior insulation finishing systems under special conditions

Long-range plans

Four subcommittees of council members and citizens appointed by the council began working on the document last October, and have since held a series of public meetings to gather opinions of what should be in the development guide.

Those working on the project have attempted to write a guidebook for future development, “and not a regulatory document,” Bengford said.

But under long-range plans for the use of the planning guide, city codes would be updated to reflect the documents’ goals, according to Dave Kuhl, the city’s Development Services director.
Although that work is years away, Kuhl said the city already encourages developers and existing businesses to adopt building styles that are consistent with the city’s history, and forest & farm surroundings.

The draft presented to the council last week is a preliminary draft of the guide, which will eventually be brought to the council and city Planning Commis-sion for final approval.

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