Just about anything built in place of a strip club would be considered an urban improvement, but the Borealis Apartments go one better. The building is an urban dream.

It offers affordable and market-rate housing (studios and one- and two-bedroom units), incorporates sustainable design practices, is located next to a park with great views of the Seattle skyline (including the Space Needle), and features a whopping 200 units per acre.

Runberg Architecture Group wanted the design to focus on quality of life—and so it does. Large windows offer expansive views of the city, more than 3,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level enhances the pedestrian environment, and a generous common deck at level two offers recreational space for residents to interact (and enjoy that Space Needle view).

While strong design features are used prominently, something that’s often considered an afterthought—landscaping—also plays an important role. Slatted awnings, which are strategically located around the building, add visual interest to the structure’s exterior, provide solar screening during the warm summer months, and help mitigate street noise throughout the year.

As for sustainable credentials, the Borealis Apartments hold their own. The building features ultra-efficient central water heaters, thermal envelope improvements that extend 15 percent beyond code, Energy Star lighting and appliances, low-VOC paints, CRI GREENGUARD carpets, and materials with recycled content. As a result, it was given a three-star Built Green rating from the Master Builders Association.

Award: Grand for affordable project, 30 du/acre or more
Builder: W.G. Clark Construction Co., Seattle
Developer: 714 Denny LLC (Vulcan Real Estate), Seattle
Architect: Runberg Architecture Group, Seattle

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