October 1, 2021

Bellingham’s newest student housing community centers wellness, sustainability

A/E Editor

Photos by Spectrum Development Solutions LLC [enlarge]

Stateside is located at 929 N State St.

Units in the property have large windows that bathe the space in natural light.
The Stateside student housing project near Western Washington University is complete. This 270,000 square foot housing project, which consists of two mid-rise buildings with 164 furnished units, will serve Western Washington University students, faculty, and professionals in the Bellingham area.

The project, owned by Laird Norton Properties and developed in partnership with Spectrum Development Solutions was designed with sustainability and the optimization of residents’ health in mind.

“At Spectrum, we are very focused on projects that are authentic to their location,” Gabriel Grant, Principal of Spectrum Development Solutions, explained. “For Stateside, we were inspired by the natural beauty of Bellingham Bay and the access to nature that this location affords.”

The property boasts exceptional views of the bay and is located adjacent to the South Bay Trail bike and walking path.

Stateside is the first project in Bellingham to achieve Fitwel building certification. It is also expected to achieve LEED Gold. Fitwel is the world’s leading certification program focused on building occupant health and well-being, with a double-blind review process to ensure integrity. In order to achieve Fitwel certification, projects need to meet criteria in twelve “health impact categories” that include, impacts surrounding community health, supports social equity for vulnerable populations, instills feelings of well-being and promotes occupant safety and increases physical activity.

However, whilst welcomed, Stateside was about much more than getting these certifications.

“An ethos of our company has always been to build projects that foster community and wellness on all levels – physical, social, and mental,” Grant continued. “We wanted to create an environment where residents and students can be healthy, happy, and successful.”

“We learned about the Fitwel certification very early on in the deign process, back in 2018, and saw that it fit with the vision we already had for the project to foster an environment of wellness,” Jhomar Small, associate principal, Spectrum Development Solutions, added.

Spectrum worked with architect Mithun to design the buildings.

Stateside has 164 units and 513 beds total. The units range from studios to six-bedroom suites. There are also commercial spaces, a learning resource center, social lounge, leasing center, group study room, sky study lounge, courtyard and a coffee bar. Areas that promote healthy living include a 24-hour fitness center, a community kitchen for group meals and healthy cooking classes, bike workshop and storage room, and a rooftop lounge area with significant greenery and a vegetable garden.

A critical element of the project’s design was to create an environment that encouraged students not to drive cars. The bike storage space includes 392 bike stalls – 50% more than required by city code. It is also fully equipped with a bike wash and repair station and includes space for regular bike maintenance classes winch will be held on a monthly basis by a local bike store owner.

The bike area is directly accessible from the South Bay Trail, meaning that students returning hone after a long – and likely muddy – day of biking can enter seamlessly into a space to wash and store their bikes. Spectrum and LNP have also partnered with Envoy, an electric car sharing service and platform, which allows residents to reserve an electric car on demand.

Biophilic design elements were another guiding principal for the project.

“Making sure that the property had lots of natural light and spaces to experience the beautiful views of the bay was key,” Casey Huang, principal at Mithun, shared.

Windows in the units are especially large — almost reaching from floor to ceiling and in corner units wrap around to make the most of the views. Windows were also added in all corridors and in stairwells.

The building’s exteriors incorporate high-end materials with an emphasis on brick that blends in with the current streetscape and surrounding neighborhood. Carved forms in the building’s architecture and site are a nod to the geology found in the local area.

Another driving vision was the creation of a space that encouraged community. The central community space is an over 3,000 sf ‘social lounge’ that again has large windows that look out to the natural beauty of the area.

“Stateside is leading the next cycle of student housing,” concluded Grant. “We are pleased to deliver a well-received project that focuses on environmental stewardship, human health, and community placemaking.”

“It’s a very special place,” Huang said.

Students and community members seem to agree. When Stateside opened, it was already 90% leased.

Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.