Alta Arlo

Best in Region—Pacific Northwest

Seattle, Washington

Architect/Designer | Johnston Architects

Builder | Exxel Pacific

Developer | Wood Partners

Landscape Architect/Designer | Karen Kiest Landscape Architects

Interior Designer | Vida Design


Drawing inspiration from the surrounding historic neighborhood and Carnegie Library across the street, Alta Arlo’s designers prioritized the use of brick and focused on the pedestrian scale along arterial Rainier Avenue South. Complementing the existing outdoor open space surrounding the library, Alta Arlo includes two inviting public plazas along its Rainier frontage, offering southwest sun exposure, excellent sidewalk visibility, and three activating retail spaces.

The Columbia City neighborhood is extremely walkable and embraces informal, through-block short cuts that reduce the scale of the streets’ blocks. This is incorporated in Alta Arlo’s design, encouraging public circulation between Rainier and the nearby parks and community center while keeping private residential amenity spaces secure.

The residential core of the project is arranged around a generously proportioned interior courtyard, a private common open space for residents but visually connected to the public Rainier retail plazas above. Ringing the edges of the courtyard are private balconies and patios cleverly shielded by lush landscaping. The open space progresses seamlessly from public plaza to residential courtyard, to private outdoor patios.

Alta Arlo is a welcoming and comfortable place to call home, embedded within a community, and connected to the neighborhood at large.


“The designers of this development took advantage of the topography and created a focal point with the corner exterior, with the balconies slowly disintegrating toward the ends. The massing is simple, with strategic placement of balconies and materials to add interest. It also helps break down scale and makes it feel more neighborly. It also celebrates community connections, with pedestrian access right through the buildings to the courtyard. The cool retaining walls in the courtyard also address the topography.”

National Association of Home Builders