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Originally published July 10, 2012 at 8:29 PM | Page modified July 11, 2012 at 7:06 AM

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Amazon's Denny Triangle towers will look similar but distinct

At the latest hearing on Amazon's mammoth plan for three 38-story towers, architects talked about a "family resemblance" for the buildings.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Amazon.com doesn't want its three-block Denny Triangle office complex to look like a corporate campus — but the towers will bear a "family resemblance," particularly as they rise farther from the street, the project's architects said Tuesday.

The design of the facades of the three 38-story buildings still isn't far along, said NBBJ's Dale Alberda, but from a distance they'll look like "brothers and sisters." Similar materials will be used, according to the firm's latest design proposal.

As the towers come down to ground level, however, "they become more diverse," Alberda added. "We want a balance between diversity and continuity."

NBBJ presented its latest design refinements Tuesday night to the city's advisory Downtown Design Review Board, the third session the panel has devoted to the mammoth project unveiled in February.

Additional meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.

Altogether, Amazon has proposed 3.3 million square feet of office space, with a tower and a smaller building on each of the three blocks. The project, dubbed Rufus 2.0 — apparently for a former employee's much-loved dog — also would include 66,000 square feet of shop and restaurant space, 3,300 underground-parking stalls and about 1.7 acres of public open space.

It's downtown's largest project ever.

Amazon has indicated it could start construction next year on the first block, bounded by Sixth, Seventh and Westlake avenues and Virginia and Lenora streets. Development of the neighboring two blocks would follow at two-year intervals.

Among the new features proposed in NBBJ's latest design package is what the architects call a "shared-use street" on Lenora between Seventh and Westlake avenues. It would remain open to cars, but designed to give pedestrians and bicyclists priority, landscape architect Mark Brand said.

Paving from the plaza at the base of the neighboring tower would be extended into the street. There might be no curb, Brand said, and landscaping and other pedestrian-oriented features could be extended up to 12 feet into the street, taking over a parking lane and a traffic lane.

NBBJ and Amazon still are discussing the concept with city transportation officials, he added. "We're exploring how far we can go with this."

Amazon is buying the three blocks from longtime owner Clise Properties and has said it expects to close on the sale by the end of the year.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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