The New Arbor Blocks Development is Positively Woonerful

Arbor Blocks boasts the world’s first Salmon-Safe certified woonerf. Through its incorporation of green roofs, bioretention planters, and water efficient irrigation, this project creatively displays Salmon-Safe’s philosophy of encouraging low-impact practices that go beyond environmental regulations.  Located on 8th Avenue North, between Thomas and Harrison Streets; Vulcan’s new Arbor Blocks Development will be home to Facebook’s Seattle office. The project consists of two 6-story commercial midrise structures totaling 384,000 s.f. of office space and 4100 s.f. of street level retail space.  The two buildings feature increased setbacks to preserve light and air for the existing sweet gum tree canopy being preserved along 8th avenue North. What is now a standard  street will be converted into a pedestrian-friendly woonerf with a specialty paving pattern and widened sidewalks. Plantings, seating and artwork will be added to the project to incorporate a community gathering space.

The 8th Ave N woonerf will include approximately a dozen planting areas ranging from 100 to 2,000 sf. Together with the green roofs, these planting areas represent a sizable increase in urban habitat and natural public space compared to existing conditions. Several large existing trees, primarily sweet gum, will remain and be surrounded by porous pavement for additional stormwater management.

The project is designed by Graphite Architects and Hewitt Landscape Architects. The general contractor is Lease Crutcher Lewis, a Salmon-Safe Accredited Construction firm. Construction on the new buildings began at the end of 2016. Facebook will move into the development in the fall of 2018. In addition to the site achieving Salmon-Safe certification the buildings will be targeting LEED Gold certification as well.

Rendering courtesy of Graphite Design


What is a Woonerf? A woonerf is a Dutch term for a living street. Woonerfs include shared space for pedestrian, auto and bike friendly users. The corridors are designed with traffic calming strategies and low speed limits.  The term “woonerf” has been adopted in the U.S., typically referring to complete streets where equal priority is given to all modes of transportation including automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.  The word, of Dutch origin, literally translates as “living yard” or “residential grounds”.