University of Washington Student Housing
In Brief

Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects

Washington, USA

Construction value:

September 2013 

FCBStudios were appointed to work with Ankrom Moisan Architects, for the University of Washington in Seattle, on feasibility studies for two student housing schemes on sites at the Western edge of the University Campus, overlooking Portage bay with distant views of Mount Rainier.

With the appropriate site agreed upon we were retained to help bring forward designs for the scheme, whose brief was for 930 bedspaces and 165 car parking spaces. The Architectural Commission for the University went on to give high praise for “an exemplar project” in a district of the campus which was undergoing much re-development.

The student community is composed of a collection and aggregation of spaces of a range of scales, from the individual study bedroom to the shared apartments.  Apartments are organised around routes of vertical circulation embedded in fingers of accommodation.  The public realm takes all the students to the key circulation routes from their apartments, and is animated by all the shared communal spaces which serve the student community; such as the coffee shop, Great Room, laundry, and shared music and study rooms.

When the University relocated to the campus in the late 1800’s the site was seen as a ‘Gem set in silvery waters’ and this particular site enjoys the views of water, adjacent communities and bridgescapes, which characterises the Seattle landscape. The Westerly outlook is dominated by University Bridge and the Interstate Highway, to the South is the freshwater of Portage bay and Lake Union.


The University brief requested the lowest environmental impact within their capital budget, and to build community through sustainability that speaks to prospective residents.

The buildings use structural timber walls and floors over concrete lower floors, a common US typology. The project achieved LEED Gold certification, targeting 30% less energy in use than the Seattle Energy Code. PVC windows were argued locally to have a longer life and better overall performance than timber for their budget.

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