citizenM Seattle - South Lake Union Hotel
Project of the Year Finalist and Best Project

Owner: citizenM Hotels
Lead Design Firm/Architect: Gensler 
General Contractor: Mortenson
Civil Engineer: CPL
Structural/MEP Engineer: ARUP
Landscape Design: Site Workshop
Subcontractors: Auburn Mechanical; Polcom Group; Prime Electric; Goebel

Tucked inside one of Seattle’s premier technology hubs, the seven-story, 264-room hotel is a model of innovation as the city’s first fully modular hospitality building. Unlike similar projects where prefabrication facilities are relatively close to the construction site, citizenM’s nearly 230 modules were assembled half a world away in Poland, presenting the project team with several coordination challenges, from inspection and permitting to synchronizing shipment and delivery of finished units with the onsite construction sequence. 

Early coordination with city and state regulators established clear lines of responsibility and communication that prevented unexpected issues from derailing the project. One example was a different interpretation of a state-approved plumbing solution by the in-factory inspector. To keep manufacturing on schedule, the team rapidly coordinated an alternative solution that required sourcing a critical part for the factory from outside Europe. 

The completed module structures also had to be sufficiently stiff to prevent lateral or dynamic loads from damaging interior finishes during transport and hoisting yet be flexible enough to withstand seismic movement once integrated into the hotel. The project team solved this dilemma by attaching temporary bracing to the sides of each module for support during the unit’s long, multimodal journey. The braces were cut from above after they were installed, allowing modules to become part of a seismically sound structure. A team from the modular manufacturing company was on site during placement of the modules to ensure accurate connections.

Though each citizenM guest room is only 160 sq ft, guests enjoy king-size beds, soundproof walls, rain showers and a lobby that doubles as a 24/7 activity hub, with four creative meeting spaces. The hotel is designed according to green building standards and aims to achieve LEED Gold certification. The project team logged more than 465,500 work hours with no lost-time injuries.

Back to ENR Northwest's 2020 Regional Best Projects