Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Green Building Slam - Nov 15th 5:00pm Kane Hall

Our good friend Scott Engler of Heartwood Builders will be presenting our Beach Drive Residence at the 2014 Green Building Slam (formerly 10x10x10).  If you've never been it's a pretty cool event featuring lots of inspirational projects.  We are very pleased to be included and grateful to Scott for taking the initiative to submit and present the project.  For tickets and event information see:

2014 Green Building Slam - Seattle
Kane Hall, University of Washington
November 15, 2014 5:00pm

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Marion Green Tour

For a few minutes this weekend the rains relented and we were able to enjoy some clear skies for our Marion Green tour.  We truly enjoyed the opportunity to show off the completed project to our friends and to thank many of the people who helped take this project from concept through to completion.

This was our second project using the central covered courtyard concept and our first project as architect/developer.  It is difficult to prototype a new housing type and we were helped enormously by efforts of the city council and DPD who saw merit in what we were trying to do and helped clear away some of the regulatory hurdles that cropped up along the way.  Marion Green wasn't easy to pull off, but the path has been mowed and the next one will certainly be easier.

I noticed that another development group has picked up on the courtyard-over-parking idea and is proposing a similar kind of project.  It is my hope that many others will follow suit as well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marion Green Sneak Preview

Alec Gardner from our office ran out to Marion Green last week to snap some sneak preview pictures.  We hope to see you at the tour.  Open House on Saturday Nov 1, 1-3pm.  More pictures at:

A-Untitled_Panorama2 (2).jpg


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marion Green Tour - Saturday Nov 1 - 1pm to 3pm

Marion Green, our first project as architect/developer, is just about finished up and ready for the new owners to move in.  We will be holding an Open House on Saturday Nov 1, 1-3pm to share this unique project with our friends and colleagues.  This project represents a major step forward in terms of providing a model of dense infill housing that facilitates community among neighbors, provides generous open space and natural light, and deals effectively with the aesthetic and logistical challenges of automobile parking.

Thank you to our partners at Paar Development and to our many collaborators:

Architect:  David Neiman and Juan Vergara - Neiman Taber Architects
Structural Engineer:  Jim Harriott and Benjamin Bird - Harriott Valentine Engineers
Landscape Architect: Patricia Lenssen, Philbin Landscape Architects
General Contractor:  Peter Ottele and Doug Scheer - Village Builders
Strategy and Marketing:  Joe Paar, Paar Development
Sales Agent:  Jacob Menashe, Berkshire Hathaway

Event details and RSVP at

Friday, October 3, 2014

Madison Apartments

Perspective looking east down Denny Way 

The Madison Apartments is a mixed-use building on an existing vacant lot on the corner of East Madison Street and 23rd Avenue East. The project hopes to successfully develop a challenging site that is currently a missing tooth in the urban fabric, provide housing and commercial opportunities that are scaled to the local housing and business needs, and to develop a high quality building that is authentic to its time and is responsive to its context. 
The project has been designed to respond to both the commercial nature of the Madison Corridor and to the residential nature of Denny.  Along the Madison corridor the project steps down the hill, creating multiple retail entries that can support small incubator retail businesses.  The façade design features large storefronts, projecting awnings, and a certain degree of visually dynamic asymmetrical composition.  Along Denny, the project uses similar materials, but there is no expressed storefront base, no continuous canopy, and the composition is more ordered and quiet.
The project has been specifically designed to step the lower levels of the building in order to adapt to the sloping public way.  This stepping allows for a more porous edge along the Madison commercial corridor and a minimization of the visual impacts of the parking and utility uses along the Denny façade. Placing the residential entrance along Denny Way creates pedestrian activity and activates all sides of the site.  
At the corner between the Madison and Denny Facades, The project celebrates the corner with a façade that is more transparent, features a double height retail space, and expresses the geometry of the site by featuring a sharp prow that is typical of triangular sites in the Madison corridor. The transition from the corner prow to the Denny façade leaves a little space between the two masses to allow them to be visually distinct and resolve in a more successful fashion.

View looking west down Madison Street
The project has been designed to accommodate narrow floorplates, multiple entries, and correspondingly small, more affordable apartments and incubator commercial spaces. All of these features are highly responsive to the needs of the neighborhood residents and businesses. The project massing has been designed to express the geometry and take advantage of the sloping nature of the site. 
Parking is in an area behind the building, partially enclosed and partially open.  The portions of the parking enclosure that are open are screened by a green screen wall and an overhead trellis.

View looking west up Madison Street

In commercial zones adjacent properties can be developed to the property line, so projects have to be designed to work both in their current form, and in a future condition with a neighbor built up against it. The NE blank wall features unit balconies that create depth and shadow, and a composition of colored panel siding to add visual interest.  The SE blank wall features a frame-infill pattern that echoes the Denny facade.  A portion of this wall has been set back three feet to allow for windows in the façade to increase visual interest.
The project features a number of high quality materials that are selected with durability and appropriateness to climate in mind.  Project materials include Integrally colored GFRC cement panel siding (OKO skin), Anodized aluminum storefront, powder-coated steel canopies and decks, vinyl windows, rainscreen installation of all sidings, exterior insulation of all roofing. 
Permits are expected to be ready for a Spring 2015 start of construction.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Artist Reception

Please come and join Neiman Taber Architects this Saturday evening, September 13th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm for an evening of art and cocktails.  We will be showing the work of two talented local painters - Janice Tayler and Alan Rushing.

If you can't make the show, several pieces will remain on our walls until the next party, so feel free to swing by anytime over the next month to take a peek.

Neiman Taber Architects
1421 34th Avenue  Suite 100
in Madrona

Janice Tayler  "Wounded Undertow"  36"x 36"

Alan Rushing  "Bay view"  30" x 42"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Micro-Housing Legislation Needs Work

Marion Micro Housing by Neiman Taber
In response to the ongoing controversy over micro housing, Councilmember Mike O'Brien has proposed new legislation that would significantly change the rules for micro housing development in Seattle.
Depending on your point of view this proposal is either a welcome reset of the development standards for the zone, or a step backwards in terms of accommodating the real world needs of our housing market.  Putting this question aside, the proposal is based on the premise that current forms of micro housing have a unit density that is inappropriate (too dense) for the low-rise (LR) zones.
Ravenna Micro Housing by Neiman Taber
Current micro housing development is mostly built in the form of congregate housing (private sleeping rooms with shared kitchens and other amenities) and produces an average unit size of about 150 ft.². Councilmember O'Brien's proposal would ban private development of congregate housing in LR zones, replacing them with conventional studio apartments with a minimum average size of 220 ft.². Development under this new proposal would result in a unit density roughly two-thirds of what is typical today.
Land-use regulations should always be as simple and as flexible as possible. Since the purpose of the proposal is to limit density, the straightforward way to do so is to impose a density limit. Instead, the proposal attempts to regulate density indirectly by restricting unit type, size, and features in a manner that is unnecessarily restrictive, complex, and likely to lead to unintended consequences.
As architects that specialize in infill housing we have designed a number of small unit housing projects. Some of the projects are congregate style micro housing with shared communal spaces. Some of the projects are conventional studio apartments that have few shared amenities. While these two types of small unit housing serve a similar sector of the housing market, the unit designs for the two types are quite distinct from one another and neither type matches very well with the unit sizes that are anticipated by the new proposal.
The Difference Between Micros and Studios
Small studios and micros are not the same thing. Micros are generally designed with built-in amenities along the perimeter of the room and a walkway down the middle. Studios are generally designed with bathrooms & kitchen areas clustered into a zone so that the remaining living room area can be set up with loose furniture arrangements.
Because of their efficient configuration, micros generally average around 150sf (Figure 1a).  As they get bigger, the built-in amenities get roomier, resulting in larger bathrooms, kitchenettes, desks, and beds. In all sizes, a double loaded walkway down the middle remains more or less a constant (Figure 1b).

Because of the pragmatics of furniture settings (and a code dictated minimum living room size), most studios are larger than 220sf (Figure 2a).  In our projects, it is rare for us to design studio smaller than 250sf.  As studios get smaller, they get progressively more difficult to furnish in a useful manner (Figure 2b).  220sf is very close to the lower limit for a studio. 

So, while it is quite possible to design a useful dwelling unit at 220sf, or even 180sf (the minimum size currently proposed), the low end of the range anticipated by the proposal is not realistic in the studio format.
The floor plan arrangement that works best at that size is the one we use for micro’s, but this kind of floor plan cannot meet the minimum living room area required for studio apartments (currently 150sf, proposed 120sf).
The legislation, as proposed, would make it impossible to provide a small unit in the format that makes it most useful for the end user.
If the goal is to regulate density, then regulate density.  Council member O’Brien’s proposal would work out to roughly a density limit of 1/150 in LR3 and 1/230 in LR2 (units /land sf).  LR1 already has a density limit for apartments.
Enacting a density limit would achieve the council's stated policy goals while making large parts of the remaining legislation unnecessary.  With a density limit in place, there is no need to regulate minimum unit size, both small apartments and congregate housing could be allowed, and there is no need for the land use code to micromanage the interior design of housing units.  The outcome is predictable, flexibility is preserved, and individual developers and architects remain able to design housing that best fits the needs of users.

Table A for 23.45.512: Density Limits in Lowrise Zones
Units allowed per square foot of lot area by category of residential use
Cottage Housing Development (1) and Single-family Dwelling Unit
Rowhouse Development
Townhouse Development (2)
Apartment (3)
No limit
1/2,200 or 1/1,600
No limit
1/1,600 or No limit
1/1,200 or No limit 1/230
No limit
1/1,600 or No limit
1/800 or No limit 1/150

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Olympic View Courtyard Townhomes

Our latest courtyard townhouse project is getting ready to submit for permit review.  Olympic View sits on lower Queen Anne on a sloping site that looks over the Uptown neighborhood with views out to Downtown, Mt Rainier, and Elliot Bay.

While Olympic View shares many attributes with its predecessors Beacon Green and Marion Green, it is the first time we have applied the idea to a sloping site, so the project terraces down the hill to provide units with an unobstructed view from each roof terrace.

The parking level is a little different than anything we've done before, featuring a mixture of garage and open parking that allows us to get a larger parking area.  This translates above into a larger courtyard space than on any of our previous projects.

We've been experimenting with using Google Earth to help study the views from the project.  To help verify the Google Earth info, we modeled distant bits of the topography, shoreline, and downtown buildings.  An example of the framework we use for this is shown below

Olympic View is scheduled to construction in April 2014 with units coming to market by the end of the year.

Olympic View Townhomes - Overview
View from Roof Deck
Section View Through Courtyard
Model framework of Downtown and Elliot Bay used to test views and window placements.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Church Green Townhomes - first hurdle cleared.

Our townhome project for the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene took a step forward today.  It was reviewed by the City Council Central Staff and the Planning Commission and placed on the docket to be considered for a comp plan amendment that would allow the project to go forward.  In about 2 weeks, we will have another hearing, and if we get past that one we'll be well on the way.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Best in Show

Our Beach Drive project won Visitors' Favorite at the 2014 NW Green Home Tour.  Thanks to our very thoughtful client (you know who you are) for letting us show off your lovely home.  Congratulations also to Heartwood Builders for their skillful execution of a challenging project.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Green Home Tour - Saturday April 26 - 11am to 5pm

This Saturday is the NW Eco-Building 2014 Green HomeTour. Four of our projects are featured on the tour this year. The tour is free and open to the public. Hope to see you at some of the projects.

The Mosner Residence (4827 Beach Drive) is one of two adjacent waterfront houses that we designed (the Binder residence next door isn't quite done & is not on the tour).  It's a really simple design with some spectacular views, a very successful natural lighting strategy, some interesting use of color and specialty finishes.  5 star built green. Features include a 6kw active solar array, heat pump HVAC, on demand hot water, high efficiency envelope featuring rainscreen siding, fluid applied WRB, spray foam super-insulation. Taber will be stationed there all day to answer questions and sign autographs.

Mosner Residence (4827 Beach Drive)

Marion Green (918 14th Ave) is our latest courtyard townhouse project. It isn't quite as far along as we had hoped at this stage, but we'll be there with some explanatory boards to help flesh out what's there. The project has generated a lot of interest from buyers, with two of the five units already sold. 4 Star Built Green. Neiman will be on-site here all day.

Marion Green - 918 14th Avenue

Westview Townhomes (2808 14th ave W) is a 4 unit townhouse project with a shared community green space and spectacular views of Interbay and Elliott Bay beyond. 4 Star Built Green.

Westview Townhomes - 2808 14th Ave W

Howell Green is a 7 unit townhouse project, also centered around a shared community green space. Units are oriented to take advantage of the project's southern exposure for passive solar gain and good natural light. 4 star built green.

Howell Green - 1724 17th Avenue

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Madrona Artwalk

One of the many things we enjoy about our new storefront office space is our participation in the monthly Madona Artwalk.  With the aid of our nelwy designed temporary art display panels (that only an architect could love), every 2nd Saturday of each month from 2 pm-5 pm, we transform our workspace into a 600 square foot art gallery!  

This month our featured artist is Amy Hamblin of Seattle. Amy creates large-scale sculptures, contemporary milagros, small wearable art, and jewelry; all are which inspired by science and nature.  Her material palette includes pure and sterling silver, copper, bronze, pewter, steel, wire, rubber, and other things.  To see more of Amy's work, visit her website at

If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by this Saturday - our new location is 1421 34th Avenue (in the old glassybaby space).  And also, keep an eye out for our monthly Artwalk Blog for upcoming shows!

Rubber Wall Tattoos

Diaphanous Organ: Fascia 2012

Etheries: Iota 2013 

Monday, March 17, 2014

HUP Wellington Lofts

Wellington Apartments is an existing 22 unit apartment building on the corner of 16th Ave East and East Mercer St in Seattle. It currently has an existing accessory parking structure to the west of the property.  The proposed project will demolish the parking structure and replace it with three new loft units above a new parking garage. Each unit has a large sleeping loft above the kitchen, bathroom and laundry at the apartment level. The living area takes advantage of the double height space. The thin floor plate and simple shed form provide each unit with access to good natural light. High windows provide individuals within the units views to the sky and maintain privacy from neighboring buildings. The façade expression features a  color range of painted cement panels that match the existing brick so the new building will fit within the character of its immediate context. The project is set to begin construction soon.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Neiman Taber Architects - Its Official

It's official.  David Neiman Architects has become Neiman Taber Architects.  We're putting the finishing touches on our new logo & graphics, changing over our website domain, printing new cards, and working through the rest of the loose ends.  Look for a launch party in April or May.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Housing on the Green - WSCN Townhomes Update

This week we released a first look at our Housing on the Green project for the West Seattle Church of the Nazarene.  The project is a joint venture of DNA, Paar Development, and WSCN. Proceeds from the development will be used to fund a renovation of the church and improvements to the grounds including a public playground.

The project features a cluster of six new homes built along the alley side of the church green.  Each of the homes has a two car garage accessed from the alley, a main living level that faces out to the public green, and a top level with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a sleeping loft tucked into the eaves of the roof.

Between the homes and the park are a series of transitional spaces:  A covered porch steps down to a semi-private yard, which steps down to the level of the park.  Each height transition is marked with visual cues such as railings, fences, pathways, and planting beds that provide clear definitions between the public realm and the private realm and all of the gradations in between.  The homes are not connected internally to their garages so that comings and goings from the homes help activate the commons.  In turn, people using the commons help keep an eye on the housing.  Many opportunities are created for chance interactions among neighbors that help build strong communities.

The project owes a great deal to Ross Chapin and his book Pocket Neighborhoods.  Ross has been a generous teacher, and his work has been enormously helpful in explaining concepts of community design to our clients and their neighbors.

The project has received some publicity in West Seattle Blog and KIRO, and is being followed with some interest in the community-at-large. We held our third public meeting last night, received some good feedback, and will be taking some steps over the next couple weeks to help with the public outreach some more, including:
  • Post signage at the site showing some project imagery.  Stake out building footprints on the ground.
  • Publish a document explaining how the funds raised by the development will be used by the church.
  • Publish a draft of the comp plan amendment (required as a precursor to the rezone).
  • Set up an informational website to make project information easy for the public to access.

Project Team:  David Neiman, Juan Vergara, Erin Feeney.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Marion Green Update - Groundbreaking, Design Changes, and First Sale

Marion Green, our most ambitious courtyard townhouse project to date, broke ground last month.  One of my favorite features was that we designed the project around preserving the original streetscape, re-purposing the original garages as automobile and pedestrian entries to the site.  Partway through the permitting process, we discovered that the zoning code would not allow us to keep the automobile entry, as the existing walls blocked sight lines that allow pedestrians and cars to see each other.  In the first week of earthwork we discovered that there was not enough room on site to get equipment in and out without removing the second garage.  Finally, when it came time to start hauling away demolition debris and soil, we needed the entire front of the site for loading, at which point all of the existing site walls came down.  It was a disappointment, but one of those growing pains that all projects go through as they progress from concept to reality.

Original streetscape with garages and street walls preserved.  The intention was that equipment and materials would come in ant out in the area between the two garages.
Current design.  The only remnant is the blade wall on the north property line that holds up the neighbors yard.  Everything else is new.
This picture gives you an appreciation for the mismatch between my original design intent and the scale of the equipment coming in and off the site.
Now for the good news:  We just sold our first unit!  We got a good price (about $50/sf than the previous best comp for the neighborhood), which is encouraging, as a design like Marion Green is more expensive to build than a conventional project and construction costs in general are rising quickly in the current boomlet.  The way this season is shaping up we expect the units will sell out well in advance of project completion this fall.  For anyone following the project as an interested buyer, I would encourage you to contact the sales team soon to let them know.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Howell Green and Westview Townhomes.

A pair of new courtyard townhomes we designed for Paar Development are heading for completion and were recently listed for pre-sale. To help with the marketing we prepared the videos that can be viewed below:

Westview Townhomes - 2808 14th Avenue W

Westview is a four unit development featuring a central courtyard shared by all of the units.  Because the site has alley access, it doesn't require an elaborate structured courtyard like Beacon Green or Marion Green. The courtyard provides private decks for each unit as well as a rain garden that handles all of the project stormwater.  Roof decks for each unit look out over Interbay and Puget Sound. Projecting decks along the street front help break up the facade and draw human activity to the public way.

Howell Green Townhomes - 1724 17th Avenue

Howell Green is a seven unit development on top of Capitol Hill. Like Westview it has an alley that provides access and parking, with a central courtyard that provides open space and stormwater retention.  The courtyard is set a half-level below the main floor, so that the main living areas and private decks feel connected to the common areas. The stairways are designed to have a split level entry so people can easily circulate from the private decks down to the commons without using exterior stair that would eat up space and create a lot of visual clutter. The site enjoys good southern exposure, so the units are oriented to provide more units that can capture the light and solar gain. The solar shades, the roof overhangs, and the canopies have all been integrated together to form strong horizontal planes that create visual interest, protect the areas of natural finish, and create a bottom/middle/top composition that recalls some of the more traditional buildings in the area.  

Both projects are currently listed for pre-sale.  See and for more information.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Roxette Apartments

Seattle is currently going through a multi-family housing boom, and we are booming right along with it. Looking around the office, almost everyone has a an apartment project or two on their desk.  The first one out of the gate this year is the Roxette, a 20 unit addition to the Roxborough Apartments at 18th & Denny on Capitol Hill.  While we are waiting for our first official design review meeting, we have set up an informal public meeting to show the project to the neighbors and take some early feedback.

Apartment development in lowrise zones is a hot topic in Seattle these days.  LR3 zones were given a height increase up to 40' in the 2011 code revision, and the most recent crop of projects have produced a lot of projects that are out of scale with their neighbors.  The Roxette project is focused on creating a building massing that respects the scale of the adjacent 3 story apartment along the front facade, stepping up to a four story height farther away from the street.  

PUBLIC PRESENTATION:  5:50PM, January 28 ; Polish Home Association - 1714 18th Ave E.