Core Design Team
Firm: SMR Architects
Kate Smith, NCARB
Kim Anh Tran-Dinh
Douglas Ito, AIA
Contractor: W.G. Clark Construction
Architect: SMR Architects
Landscape Architect: Fazio Associates
Civil Engineering: KPFF
Structural Engineering: Reid Middleton
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering: Sider + Byers Associates
Mechanical Subcontractor: Emerald Aire Inc.
Electrical Subcontractor: Tradesmen Electric
Plumbing Subcontractor: Sunrise Plumbing
Fire Protection Subcontractor: Red Hawk Fire Protection, LLC
Building Envelope Consultant: 4EA Building Science
Accessibility Consultant: Studio Pacifica
Located in the Central District at the corner of 12th and Spruce, Bertha Pitts Campbell Place is a seven-story, 103-unit building developed by Plymouth Housing that provides permanent supportive housing to individuals who have previously experienced homelessness with a set aside for homeless veterans. Services are provided on-site, with three units dedicated to live-in staff. The building also includes a ground-floor commercial space, two community rooms, a common kitchen, a clinic, and a large outdoor courtyard for the tenants to gather. The site was formerly home to St. Francis House, an organization dedicated to serving individuals experiencing homelessness by providing food, clothing, and other aid. Plymouth Housing partnered with St. Francis House to redevelop the site, and it will occupy the commercial space on the ground floor. The project is a win-win for both organizations, with over 52,000 square feet of residential area and almost 7,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space for St. Francis House. The new commercial space provides a sheltered courtyard for customer queuing, a new café space where customers can rest, recover, and build community, and expanded “shopping” areas. It also provides an entrance along the alley for volunteers and donation drop-off and 10 parking stalls for volunteers. An artistic screen/gate is included at the commercial courtyard entry to create a “people-friendly” space.
Vibrant colors were selected to reflect the rich cultural history of the site. This project meets the greater community’s goals by increasing housing affordability, as well as strengthening and enhancing the existing neighborhood character. Additionally, the streetscape quality was improved with the project’s use of transparency, improved landscaping, overhead weather protection, and eyes on the street.
The entrance to St. Francis House is centrally located on the main façade meeting the sidewalk. The large, recessed courtyard and canopy clearly identify the entrance and allow for customer respite off of the sidewalk. There is open storefront all along 12th Avenue for pedestrian transparency into the St. Francis House space, which features retail services. The residential entrance is located at the corner of 12th and Spruce, recessed, and identified with a canopy wrapping the corner. The lobby office is staffed 24/7 with windows facing both 12th Avenue and Spruce Street, providing continuous eyes on the street for both the residents and the neighborhood. The separation of the entrances along the façade allows for distinct identification. Lighting was incorporated into the canopies as well as on the building to increase pedestrian safety along all three public sides of the property. Recessed entries, commercial courtyard entries, and overhead weather protection along 12th Avenue respond to the increasing pedestrian activity in this neighborhood.
The second level of the building aligns with the grade of the alley. All of the building resident amenities and support spaces are located on this level. This allows for maximum commercial presence for St. Francis House along 12th Avenue, a pedestrian street, and gives the residents privacy from the street environment. The upper floors are efficiently organized with units facing all sides of the building engaging the views and creating interest on all façades.
Plymouth Housing invited the community to vote on a name for the building, and Bertha Pitts Campbell was selected. She was a civil rights activist who worked to expand housing and other opportunities for the black community and was the first black member of the board of directors of the YWCA of Seattle King Snohomish. “As an inaugural board member of the Seattle Urban League in the early 1930s, Pitts Campbell helped lay the foundation for one of Seattle’s most impactful and recognized institutions for Black people and causes,” Plymouth Housing stated.
The site gives opportunities for both visual and physical connections to pedestrians. The building achieves this with a prominent recessed residential entrance at the corner providing extra space to the pedestrians and overhead weather protection with a corner wrapping canopy. Seating elements and short-term bike racks are also located here as amenities for the residents and neighborhood. With the extensive frontage along both 12th Avenue and Spruce Street, additional street trees, and full planting beds enhance the pedestrian experience. The right-of-way planting beds are wide and surround the sidewalk along Spruce Street creating a buffer between both the building and the street. In the alley, smaller trees with two levels of raised planting areas and decorative screening above a partial concrete wall were integrated into the design to enhance both the alley and the outdoor amenity space.