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Award-Winning ‘Urban Trees’ Development Rejuvenates Seattle Block

BOSTON, Dec. 14, 2009 – Architects have transformed a blighted Seattle lot into an award-winning commercial/residential complex featuring flexible “live-work” units, green design, and a plaza on which pedestrians and cars can coexist.

Designed with ARCHICAD building information modeling (BIM) software from Graphisoft, Urban Trees is a winner of an AIA Seattle “Future Shack” award recognizing progressive solutions for urban living.

Bradley Khouri of B9 Architects designed the 11-unit project to create a vibrant community enriched by commercial businesses such as the restaurant/bar on the corner.

Five of the 11 Urban Trees residences are live-work units. The first floors are retail spaces opening onto the sidewalk, and the upper three floors serve as family living spaces in a variety of configurations. In the back, homes open into a courtyard and a woonerf, a plaza shared by pedestrians and cars (a concept borrowed from the Dutch).

ARCHICAD was instrumental in helping B9 save time and money, easily manage a complex design project, maximize sustainability, and win over key stakeholders. “ARCHICAD helped us execute at every step, including orienting Urban Trees’ windows and courtyard to optimize solar energy, producing special faux-watercolor renderings, and supplying all the necessary visualizations to expedite the public review.”

Khouri added that it would have cost his firm $3,000 each to create water-color style renderings like the ones he produced in ARCHICAD and Adobe Photoshop software, plus $1,500 to commission solar studies he also performed in ARCHICAD.

Urban Trees buildings are made from sustainable materials, including façade panels of seasoned fir boards reclaimed from old buildings, floors made of recycled pallets, and concrete courtyard pavers recovered from a car dealer’s surplus. As befits its name, the project provides and preserves cherry, linden, maple and black hawthorn trees on the site.

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