mithun, seattle

This University of Washington student housing complex was designed to encourage community among its population of mostly married graduate students and their families. The jury felt the project achieved that goal, and did it with outstanding regard to the site's steep topography. "The way that some buildings work their way up the site and others sit horizontally is interesting, energetic, and fun," said the judges.

Architect Ron van der Veen explains that the "buildings of danger"—as he calls the units that bifurcate the slope—were set up as gateways into small "neighborhoods within the village." The neighborhoods are arranged around scattered shared greens so that kids, especially, can travel from one to the other without encountering traffic.

A community center serves as a centralized gathering spot for study groups or social events, and a child development center provides enriching activities for the smallest scholars.

project architect: Ron van der Veen, AIA, Mithun
land planner: Ron van der Veen, AIA, Mithun
developer: Bruce Lorig, Lorig Associates, Seattle
general contractor: Bill Reid, Walsh Construction, Seattle
landscape architect: Larry Smart, Atelier PS, Seattle
interior designer: Masumi Sato, Mithun
project size: 435 to 980 square feet per unit
site size: 22 acres
construction cost: $85 per square foot
rental price: $705 to $1,280 per month
units in project: 399
photographer: Doug Scott