LRS Architects Designs Seattle-Area ‘Attainable Luxury’ Living Community Alta University Place


(Alta University Place | Photo courtesy of LRS Architects)

LRS Architects, a firm that values innovation, creativity and collaboration, is nearing completion on the first phase of Alta University Place, a spacious and contemporary living experience with elevated style and an abundance of amenities located in University Place, Washington. Alta University Place introduces a residential campus that is integrated with the surrounding community, complete with a new street running through the project that links it with the existing city grid. The taller buildings of the community serve as a “gateway” to the new neighborhood, designed with a public plaza and sculptures to encourage outdoor activity and social connection.

The project comprises nine residential buildings, showcasing several three-story garden apartments accessible from an interior stairwell. It also provides two four-story buildings with elevator access, one of which houses the majority of amenities for the project, including two exercise rooms and a large community room. The Pacific Northwest contemporary design features steep gables and a neutral color palette. Artfully detailed brick masonry is used in key locations to enhance the texture and balance of materiality and depth. Ground-level units include patios, while some upper-level residences offer balconies.

“The architecture is rich and simple, with ample light, and generous windows that activate the street, connecting residents to the neighborhood and contributing to the uniqueness of the community,” explained Julio Rocha, senior associate at LRS Architects. “Garden-style buildings are traditionally open ‘breezeway’ buildings, but we wanted to do a garden project that was more elevated in terms of its design.”

Amenities at Alta University Place include an outdoor swimming pool and sauna, club room, shuffleboard, communal kitchen and dining areas, a coworking lounge, a dog run, and a children’s play structure. In addition, material from a former bowling alley that existed on the site is being repurposed for the fitness and yoga studio flooring.

The project includes 274 living units in total. The homes are thoughtfully composed, designed with modern livability in mind Details like the in-unit work-from-home niches and coworking lounge offer a future-forward approach to the design of apartment amenities, enhancing virtual and hybrid work options for residents. In the common areas, the design references the cross bracing visible on the iconic Tacoma Narrows Bridge, amplifying a unique sense of place. The common area bathrooms feature a tree motif, and if you look closely, an image of Elliott and E.T. flying on their bike — an easter egg from the designers.

A number of references to pop culture and local lore are hidden throughout the space, giving the community amenities a sense of whimsy that invites residents and visitors to look closer. “According to local legend, a red Giant Pacific Octopus lives beneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, so we included a nod to the legend through a large tile mural of an octopus at the pool,” said Kelsey Loverro, an associate and interior designer at LRS Architects. “This ties together the Alta University Place community with local history and folklore.”

LRS is working with client Wood Partners, who is serving as the general contractor. Construction commenced in mid-2022 and is anticipated to be completed this spring.

About LRS Architects:
LRS Architects is a majority women-owned architecture and interior design firm with offices in Bend and Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1976, the award-winning practice is driven by a passion for good design that goes beyond aesthetics to create vibrant communities and spaces that support the well-being of those who inhabit them. With 120 design professionals, the firm is committed to partnering collaboratively with clients to positively shape the human experience through the physical environment. The diversity of the firm’s project experience provides a broad perspective and proven expertise in design, problem-solving, documentation, and project delivery methods. The firm’s work, while centered in the Pacific Northwest, is found throughout the United States in over 30 states, as well as in China, Canada, and Nicaragua. Recognized with dozens of awards, the practice’s work has been featured in hundreds of publications, including Architect, Fast Company, ENR, and Office Snapshots, among many others. LRS is an Oregonian Top Workplace Award Winner 2016-2023.


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