Hillclimb Court Mixed-use/Condominium Building

Location Seattle, Washington
Design Mentor Jim Olson

Hillclimb Court, a mixed-use project, is conceived as a visual and physical link between two historic and popular downtown Seattle places, the waterfront and Pike Place Market. Physically bounded by the heavily traveled Alaskan Way Viaduct to the west and a busy city street to the east, this urban infill building faces inward to create an urban oasis. Taking advantage of water views was difficult due to the viaduct’s noisy, dominating presence and its concrete structural piers, which are visually and physically overwhelming.

The mixed-use complex contains retail spaces and 35 residential condominiums built on a platform above a 200-car garage. With its concrete framing restating the tough structural vernacular of the warehouses along Western Avenue, Hillclimb Court seeks to complement and help create an urban/residential/retail corridor from the retail stalls of the Market down to the attractions and industry on the waterfront piers.

In making this a quiet place, the water view orientation so common to buildings in the area has been supplanted with something far more precious: a serene, natural gathering space that enhances the spirit of community. The pavilion, or retail component of the project, was sited along the city street to the east forming the street edge and closing the open side of the U to provide a visual buffer for the residential development behind. Backlit glass block walls transform the retail component into a lantern by night, lighting up the city’s nightscape and warming and enriching the urban texture.



Design Mentor

Jim Olson



“Hillclimb Courts Wohnanlage in Seattle, Washington/USA.” Architektur + Wettbewerbe No. 126, 1998, 9-10. Print.


“Pike & Virginia Building, Hillclimb Court.” Global Architecture – GA Houses #17, April 1985, 150-159. Print.


Brenner, Douglas. “An uphill design for downtown housing.” Architectural Record, Feb. 1984, 134-137. Print.


Hidebrand, Grant. “Urban Curse: Cluttered, Flat Roofs.” The Seattle Times, 5 Sept. 1982, D10. Print.

Hildebrand, Grant. “Hillclimb Court.” The Seattle Times, 5 Sept. 1982, D10. Print.

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