Colman School Apartments

Built in 1909, the Colman School is designated as a City of Seattle Landmark.

The 3-story brick school had been boarded up since 1985, and required extensive restoration and seismic retrofit when the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle purchased the property in 2001. The upper two floors now house 36 new affordable housing units in 33,000 square feet of space while the ground floor was transformed into the 18,000 square foot Northwest African American Museum. Beyond the main exhibition spaces of the museum, there is a large multi-use community space, a cafe, a bookstore and artists studios that serve as interactive work and educational spaces for artists and students.

A 45 foot tall brick wall that was literally able to be “wiggled” by hand was repaired by demolition of the wall down 35 feet to where the wall was solid, and then a CMU wall for was built for structural support, allowing the repaired brick wall to be laminated against it.

The interior was severely damaged by twenty years of neglect requiring that much of it be removed, but the brick facade was restored to its original state. Rather than being demolished, over fifteen exterior doors and two hundred and fifty existing windows were refurbished. Ten foot tall refurbished windows in former classroom spaces with 13’-6” ceilings brought both great character and light to the transformed median income residential apartment units. Many of these restored windows provide grand views of the downtown Seattle skyline.

Elements that needed to be replaced because they could not be saved as well as new items required by program were incorporated with an ecologic mindset. Low flow shower heads were used in all apartments, low VOC products were specified in all areas, power saving compact fluorescents and energy saving appliances were installed whenever possible.

Seattle, WA
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Steve Keating Photography

Related Projects

Argonaut 2 Apartments

Argonaut 2 is a 10,000 square foot addition of 6 new units, a community room, a laundry room, and office space to an existing and occupied 8 unit project. This project serves to help place individuals with chronically mental illnesses into permanent homes who would otherwise be discharged from medical facilities back onto the streets. The building is 2 stories of wood framing located adjacent to busy 23rd Avenue on First Hill in Seattle.

See the Project

Gethsemane Lutheran Church

The Gethsemane Lutheran Church offices and sanctuary renovation, the new Hope Center / Mary’s Place, and the Dekko Place Apartments project is an intricate mix of a new 55,000 square foot, 7 story, 50 unit low-income housing apartment, separate sanctuary/church office space, and women’s & children’s shelter build out.

See the Project

AMLI Spring District Apartments

This 330,000 square foot mixed-use building includes 204 market-rate apartment units, amenities, and commercial space. Located in the heart of Bellevue’s developing Spring District neighborhood, the building consists of 5 levels of wood framed residential space above 4 levels of concrete.

See the Project