Nicholas Court Townhouses 

Seattle, WA


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Winner 2002 ABC of Western WA "Project of the Year Award"
Architect: Walker Architecture



 ęGary Sutto/Under the Light

Nestled on a sixty by one hundred twenty five foot lot between two antique single-family homes is the Nicholas Court Townhome development.  Viewed from 15th Street, the shoring and retaining walls, fifteen foot deep utility trenches, the tons of structural steel, lumber, and the hundreds of square yards of high tech waterproof sheathing are all concealed.  Gleaming galvanized steel, clear glass, matt finished cement composition siding with stainless steel fasteners, and concrete paver tiles are what greet the homeowners and passers by.

The nine-unit Nicholas Court project presented many of the difficult but common problems in constructing a new development within an existing neighborhood in Seattle.  The economy-sized property presented logistic, safety, and site development challenges.  The unique “Wet Wall” exterior skin system, designed detail by detail specifically for Nicholas Court, tested the skill and patience of the entire design/construction team, and is the feature that makes this project truly unusual.


 ęGary Sutto/Under the Light

Gordon and Colin Walker of the Walker Architectural firm designed the Wet Wall system.  Exterior Research & Design, LLC “Trinity Engineering”, provided special detail design review.  The Wet Wall exterior wall assembly consists of Maxi Tile Inc. brand fiber-cement siding, attached with marine grade stainless steel screws and washers.  The 12” wide by 5/16” thick siding is installed horizontally.  Each prefinished smooth siding board is installed with a 3/8” space to the adjacent board to allow water to migrate behind the siding.  Approximately 20,000 stainless steel screws and washers are installed in precise horizontal and vertical rows to provide a very clean and unique appearance.  The stainless steel screws are anchored to pressure treated 1x4 lumber vertical batts that are painted black to visually conceal their existence.  The batts are installed at precise locations and spacing in order to provide the necessary anchoring for the siding.  The backside of each vertical batt is coated with GE #N SCS 1800 Series silicone sealant and then screwed to the exterior walls.  The batts are coated with silicone to obtain a waterproof seal around each attachment screw, because beneath the batts is the waterproof membrane.

The waterproof wall membrane product is Vidiflex-F-2000 and is distributed locally by Allied Building Products. Vidiflex is a 25 mil TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) reinforced product that provides protection to the structure from Seattle rain.   The most challenging part of the system involved the penetrations through the walls for electrical wires, plumbing pipes, ventilation ducts, doors, and windows.  Windows for example have prefabricated Vidiflex corner assemblies, and very specific details how to install, caulk, flash and seal each opening.  Penetrations for wall vent ducts have a 45-mil gasket cut around the pipes and stretched around the ducts.  Vidiflex is lapped shingle style over the gasket to provide moisture protection.  Other penetrations are detailed in similar ways.  Where railings or other attachments are made a Medium Durometer EPDM (Ethylen Propylene Dienemonomer) gasket is used along with an ample amount of the Butyl tape or caulk to prevent moisture invasion.
 
 


 ęGary Sutto/Under the Light

The exterior courtyard construction is similar in nature to the wall system.  The plywood deck is constructed to slope to roof type drains.  PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) waterproof membrane is installed over the plywood and bonded to PVC coated galvanized steel flashings to keep finished areas under the courtyard dry.  The walking surfaces are finished with 18” by 18” Abbotsford Texada Natural colored concrete paving slabs supported above the PVC membrane by adjustable pedestals.

An eleven stall underground parking garage is provided for required off-street parking.  The major challenge for the design team was to provide a driveway on which a normal automobile could maneuver.

The interior living spaces are unique as well. Finished flooring ranges from hard troweled exposed concrete to hardwood accented by carpeting and ceramic tile. Custom cabinetwork designed by The Walker Architects and manufactured by Cabinetmakers of Tacoma uses Ranger Board, stainless steel and plastic laminate to create an authentic One-Of-A-Kind appearance.
 
 


 ęGary Sutto/Under the Light



 
 


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