THE DISCOVERY CENTER AT SOUTH LAKE UNION IN Seattle is what you'd expect from a development company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen: In addition to a striking overall design, just inside the 11,000-square-foot facility's massive front windows are six translucent panels on which animated lifestyle images are projected, visible to passersby and folks inside. There's also a 12-foot-by-16-foot, three-dimensional scale model of the redevelopment and nearby area as it will look in 2020, a theater screen that slides open to the sales floor at the end of a five-minute introductory video, and LCD monitors that show virtual tours of upcoming properties.

The majority of the building's construction employed sustainable materials, and the roof design, parking lot, and flanking bioswales help cleanse rainwater runoff. When the building's use as a sales and information center is over, it will be disassembled into four sections and moved elsewhere on the developer's 60-acre plot. “Our commitment to urban infill and green building is part of our bottom line,” says Alison Jeffries, real estate marketing manager for Vulcan, the developer. “The Discovery Center shows we walk the talk.”

Two-thirds of the center is devoted to South Lake Union's ambitious redevelopment story. The rest showcases a featured property, initially a 550,000-square-foot, $200 million mixed-use project with 261 condo units that were 90 percent sold out within a month—a sales pace aided by life-size floor plan sections, lit and furnished dollhouse models, and full-scale bathroom, living room, and kitchen vignettes.

FRONT AND CENTER: With several stories to tell inside (above) and outside (below, left), and in a variety of presentation formats including video projections, computer, 3-D, and full-scale vignettes, The Discovery Center in Seattle sets a new standard for sales center design and success.
FRONT AND CENTER: With several stories to tell inside (above) and outside (below, left), and in a variety of presentation formats including video projections, computer, 3-D, and full-scale vignettes, The Discovery Center in Seattle sets a new standard for sales center design and success.

The Discovery Center, which is always staffed, draws nearly 2,000 visitors a month through an aggressive PR campaign and a variety of community and charity events.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Discovery Center at South Lake Union, Seattle; Developer: Vulcan, Seattle; Builder: GLY Construction, Bellevue, Wash.; Architect: Miller/Hull, Seattle; Interior designer, display and model design and production: MICE Marketcraft, Tempe, Ariz.; Public relations agency: The Fearey Group, Seattle

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Seattle, WA.