Built on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle boasts a history of fishing and nautical trade. Even today, Seattleites love their lakes and waterways, and many go to work each day by ferry. On Lake Union, just north of downtown, in the residential Eastlake district, Susan Jones, FAIA, of atelierjones, converted an old fishing-industry warehouse, resting on ancient piers and steeped in the city’s history, into an upscale 20,000-square-foot office building to which occupants can commute by kayak.
For 100 years, the property had housed the family-owned Wards Cove Packing Company with its fish-packing and boat-repair facilities supporting a fleet working out of Ketchikan, Alaska. But to enhance the value of its waterfront property, the family decided to clean up the site’s industrial conditions and repurpose one of the two warehouses. Jones, whose Seattle-based firm specializes in sustainable urban housing, saw the project as a plum job. “It was a big, old, ugly warehouse,” she recalls, “but we’re always looking for underused sites to tackle.”