Vela Apartments

Kirkland, Washington

A Wraparound Build in Kirkland,
With Sweeping Views of Moss Bay


  • Neighborhood


  • Type


  • Size

    282,984 SF
    141 Residential Units

  • Status

    Completed 2023

  • Services

    Contract Administration

  • Client

    Continental Properties

Evolving up and over

Vela Apartments builds upon the 1980s Kirkland Waterfront Market, wrapping up and over the intact original structure to offer new housing units above. New materials and massing connect to the existing, especially around the retail frontage—reflecting the surrounding charm of Kirkland, while adding new spirit to the streetscape. With its angled facades, the building generates privacy for residents while maximizing the number of units that will have excellent views of the water and large-scale balconies.

An engaging neighbor

The project embraces its site and its neighbors, ultimately having four public faces. Fronted by Lake Street on the west, a waterfront/pedestrian-oriented thoroughfare offers wide sidewalks and space to gather. Expanded retail receives the star treatment; each retail space enjoys a distinct personality, cladding, color palette, and canopy design, enhancing the street as a destination for pedestrians. To the north, an alley faces an adjacent apartment building, clad in materials and colors selected to give finer-scaled interest to the smaller area. And a quieter public elevated walkway wraps around the south and east east elevations, varying the tone for the surrounding public space.

Complex needs, and a design response to match

We responded to a complex set of technical challenges with thoughtful ideation and comprehensive coordination. Initial studies by the design team included an extensive exploration of massings on the site and relationships to the existing site and building. We then explored construction types, ultimately incorporating three construction types (Type IA, VA, and IIB), a fire wall and seismic joint. Zoning code setback requirements—and a land-use code which was revised midway through construction documents—offered additional opportunities for exercising our minds. Amidst all these considerations, though, the existing retail operation remain functional during construction—a delicate balancing act that keeps the pedestrian thoroughfare continually lively and active. 

Program: 141 residential units, ranging from studio to 3 bedroom; new construction retail / restaurant space at street level that extends the existing retail frontage; expansion of new construction connected to and over an existing building known as the Kirkland Waterfront Market; landscaped street-level public plaza, overlooking landscaped private courtyard plaza