West Edge is a new 39-story apartment tower at Second Avenue and Pike Street in downtown Seattle.

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SEATTLE — Welcome to the age of the architectural rock star.

Demand for residential housing in Seattle has created a bubbling caldron of architectural ideas, where design, vision, aesthetics and purpose are much more than just grand ideologies — they are hot commodities.

At West Edge, a new 39-story apartment tower at Second Avenue and Pike Street, the unique vision of project designer Tom Kundig stands out above the fray — 440 feet above it, to be precise.

And while any new construction is going to attract its share of people “just looking,” the staff in the West Edge leasing office say they have also seen a different sort of walk-in: avid fans of the designer who are keen to just experience Kundig’s distinctive touch.

West Edge has a Japanese maple tree growing in a vaulted atrium in its lobby to greet visitors and residents alike.
West Edge has a Japanese maple tree growing in a vaulted atrium in its lobby to greet visitors and residents alike.

The lobby at West Edge is a living sculpture in glass and dark metal detailing, with a Japanese maple tree growing in a vaulted atrium to greet visitors and residents alike.

Kundig says the high-rise is a contextual response to its environment, where pedestrian and vehicular traffic are high and tall buildings define the urban condition. The building is divided into two distinct parts: the lower seven stories, which relate to the pedestrian experience; and the 32 stories above, which relate to the profile of the city and the sky.

“The lower seven-story section is darker and grittier — it responds to the cone of perception that we have when we’re in a vehicle or on foot,” he says. “The next 32 stories take on another character. As the building ascends to the sky, it gets more silvery and white, giving a nod to our Pacific Northwest skies. In this way, it softly and quietly relates to the sky.”

West Edge, developed by Urban Visions and open for leasing, invites residents to immerse themselves in the downtown lifestyle. It features spacious one-bedroom and generously appointed two-bedroom homes, many with views of the city and Elliott Bay, as well as two levels for luxurious penthouse living.

Most of the 340 units at West Edge also feature balconies with a view over a neighborhood that Urban Visions CEO Greg Smith calls “the soul of Seattle.”