SEATTLE — One year ago, a new development began to take shape in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, at the edge of downtown. Unlike other condominium communities in the city, First Light infuses art into the lives of residents from their first approach.
The residential tower will break ground later this fall. During the current presale campaign, First Light’s sales team sold 300 of the community’s 459 homes.
“We are by far the most successful project in Seattle in terms of presales over the past year,” says Michael Braun, marketing and sales director for the project’s developer, Westbank. “The city has truly embraced our artistic concept and lifestyle.”
First Light is a collaboration between Westbank, architect James Cheng and artist John Hogan.
“James Cheng is the most prolific architect in Vancouver, B.C. We did our first high-rise with him 20 years ago and have done many buildings together since,” Braun says. “This is a bit of a homecoming for him because he was educated at the University of Washington.”
Cheng’s influence is found inside and out, from the profile of the façade to the selection of the door handles.
The third collaborator at the design table from the very beginning was John Hogan, a Seattle glass artist.
“At Westbank, we look at buildings as canvases,” Braun says. “What John has done with First Light is start at the base of the tower, where he’s covering the entire podium in these beautiful, shimmering glass discs. In the lobby, he’s designed a custom piano in conjunction with Fazioli, an Italian piano company that only creates 140 pianos each year.
“As you go up the tower, he’s created a custom light fixture for the penthouse homes. And then on the rooftop, we have our Secret Garden, which is a selection of his glass sculptures set into this stunning Pacific Northwest-style garden.”
The rooftop, says Braun, is where First Light’s amenities are nested, including a yoga studio, fitness center, screening lounge and cantilevered sky pool.
“When you’re swimming in the pool, you’ll feel like you’re swimming straight into the Space Needle,” says Braun. “You have the ocean on your left, the Space Needle straight ahead and glass art on your right. It’s this amazing space on the top of the city, where everyone in the building will get to feel as if they have access to a penthouse.”
Additional building amenities include a bike clubhouse, which serves as both a bike room and a communal gathering place, and a resident’s salon with kitchen and dining area furnished by B&B Italia, a premier furniture manufacturer in Italy. Homeowners can even choose to purchase a home fully furnished with B&B furniture, with the interiors designed by Cheng.
Not all of First Light’s amenities are physical spaces, however. The developer has been working with Amazon to create an experiential amenity.
“Every home will come with an Alexa [smart-speaker system]. But what we’re doing that’s really different is we’re embedding Alexa into the common areas, as well. So imagine being able to come home, pull into the parking garage and ask Alexa to put up your blinds or turn on the kettle. Alexa will recognize your voice and respond,” says Braun.
Westbank often accompanies its new projects with a public exhibition of the architecture and public art it is bringing to the site. In addition to the First Light Presentation Gallery, another pavilion at Third Avenue and Virginia Street houses a free public art exhibition entitled “Light as a Common Thread.”
The First Light Presentation Gallery and “Light as a Common Thread” exhibition will be open until Oct. 27, when they will be removed for the start of onsite construction.
The homes at First Light are scheduled for completion in 2022.