"Every community needs voices of conscience, people for whom business as usual and irrational unfairness are simply not acceptable and leaders who stir the rest of us to awareness and action. Decades of social progress in the Pacific Northwest have been shaped by four impatient men and their tumultuous friendship, audacious leadership and unrelenting commitment to build a better world.” - Henry Cisneros, former Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Plaza Roberto Maestas ‘Beloved Community’, is a story of one woman’s commitment to continuing the dream begun by Roberto Maestas, one of Seattle’s own Gang of Four. Leading El Centro de la Raza The Center for People of All Races, Executive Director, Estella Ortega and Beacon Development worked with the design team to achieve the centers vision, goals and desired outcomes for the new development. Working to broadening its multi-layered supportive community services the design team artfully melding public open space, affordable housing, opportunities for economic development, the expansion of the existing child development facilities, and creation of a new community center within a lively, sustainable environment that expresses the culturally rich diversity of the surrounding community.
A bustling plaza is at the heart of this transit-oriented development. As you enter the plaza, nestled between the mosaic clad east and west buildings, from the festival street you are welcomed by a smaller placita honoring the cultures of the founding Four Amigos and next spring will be highlighted by a sculpture entitled Togetherness. From there the traditional geometry of the plaza opens up create flexible space to host public markets, outdoor dining, cultural events, and other community activities. At the head of the plaza, grounding the development to the historic El Centro schoolhouse will be a kiosko performance stage, to be constructed in Spring of 2017, that will host multi-cultural performances and provide opportunities for the community to come together for outdoor summer movies and soccer matches.
A playful pedestrian alley provides a lush connection beckoning visitors from the adjacent business and residential areas of the community. The open stormwater system adds to this lush playful experience that provides a direct connection to the adjacent Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park serving as the heart of the new and existing wings of the Jose Martinez child development center.
Perched above all the action, the housing features a lush and lively second floor family courtyard on the west building that allows access to play for children within the view of their families and neighbors as well as space for family gatherings that are so important to this community. In contrast, the softer 6th floor courtyard on the east building provides views to the cascades, ample space for intimate gathering or quiet reflection.
We are in an exciting time where a new standard of design puts the needs of the people and the environment in the forefront, and involves close interdisciplinary collaboration between the client, community and design team. This project furthers El Centro’s mission to provide equitable development and services that can reach all members of the community – to strengthen its residents, its neighborhood, its region, and its children, now and for generations to come.
Location: Seattle, WA
Dates: 2012 - 2017
Size: 24,090 SF Property w/ 112 Affordable Apartment Units and 25,000 SF Commercial Space
Team: El Centro de la Raza; Beacon Development; SMR Architects; 7 Directions Architects and Planners; The West Studio; Coterra Engineering; Casto Solano
Alex Garza Studios
- Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing's 2019 Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award.
- 2017 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Housing and Community Design Award for Creating Community Connections.
- 2017 Puget Sound Regional Council 'Vision 2040' Award
Image Credit: West Studio and William Wright Photography