Gardner House and Allen Family Center

Located in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, Gardner House and Allen Family Center is an innovative public-private partnership between the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, City of Seattle, Mercy Housing Northwest, and private funders to create 95 service-enriched one, two, and three-bedroom apartments for low-income and formerly homeless families. On the ground-floor, the non-profit operated Allen Family Center integrates education, housing, and employment resources in a one-stop, public hub for families and individuals in need. The project meets an immediate need the city has for more permanent-supportive and affordable housing.

Inspired by the glacial carving action that formed the Mount Baker neighborhood, open space is carved out of the building to provide an elevated courtyard that offers relief from the traffic noise and maximizes light and air across the courtyard. Secondary carvings at the upper floors reference the scale of the neighboring elevated light rail on Martin Luther King Way and the tree canopy on Rainier Avenue. These textured carvings also mark the corners of the building.

On the upper floors, the main skin of the building is characterized by a grid of staggered windows surrounded by color accents. The ground floor features a vertical grid of colorful bars that wrap around the building and relates to the pedestrian scale. Recesses at the ground level highlight the primary entrances into the building. This transit-focused development is one block from the Mount Baker light-rail station and Mount Baker Transit Center, tucked between two major arterials. Passersby can see the building’s bright, seven-story floral mural painted by Tacoma-based artist, Kenji Stoll.

  • Client

    Mercy Housing Northwest
  • Status

    Completed 2020
  • Total SF

  • Residential SF

  • Residential Units


Families are put first by centralizing supportive services, via the Allen Family Center, in a light-rail and bus accessible, child-friendly setting. The project is located one block from light-rail and two blocks from a transit center. This gives lower-income families more opportunities to get to work, school, and play without relying on car ownership.

On the 2nd level is a community room for residents and a spacious, partially covered courtyard that includes a playground.

Passersby can see the building’s bright, seven-story floral mural painted by Tacoma-based artist, Kenji Stoll.