Architects set to transform ‘Italian villa’ in Wallingford into their firm’s new HQ

Tim Carter and Greg Squires met in the architectural master’s program of the University of Washington College of Built Environments and graduated together in 2005.

They worked at various architecture firms and in 2015 founded Cone Architecture in Seattle. The practice is in rented space, but the founding principals have wanted to own their own headquarters building.

So last year they bought the salmon-colored former Perche No Pasta & Vino restaurant building at 1319 N. 49th St., which resembles “an Italian villa on the outskirts of Wallingford,” said Carter.

No matter. The founding principals envision a headquarters with a modern interior with room for the 15-member firm to spread out and grow.

“This was a dream of Greg and mine,” Carter said.

They started the renovation on March 2, but stopped work when Gov. Jay Inslee issued the March 23 COVID-19 stay-at-home order that halted most construction in Washington.

Cone Architecture specializes in multifamily architecture and does interior design for restaurants and apartment buildings. It had its biggest months ever in February and March, and the next six months were slated to be strong too, Carter said.

The firm has not lost clients or projects due to the pandemic, and has been getting queries about feasibility studies for new projects, he said.

Fortunately, before COVID-19 hit, it beefed up its remote computer access after snowstorms kept staff at home in 2019. They are using Zoom, video chat, screen sharing, and tablets to share drawings.

As long as Cone can keep clients and people need multifamily, “we are fundamentally optimistic that we’re all going to get through this,” Carter said.

The firm averages two to four projects per year (5-10% of its volume) in West Seattle, whose major access is a broken bridge that the city said won’t be reopened until at least 2022.

A Cone client has pulled out of two townhouse projects planned for that neighborhood as he wasn’t sure how he’d sell the housing with the West Seattle Bridge closed, Carter said.

He thinks some other multifamily developers may also feel that way.

“I am wondering if we’ll do any work there in the next 12 to 24 months,” he said, adding, however, that development dollars likely will move to other neighborhoods.

Cone’s Seattle projects include Dockside, an 89-unit apartment building by Blueprint Capital at 6860 E. Green Lake Way. Construction is slated to begin this summer on the six-story mixed-use project, which will include a Spud Fish & Chips restaurant. Cone is designing the building and doing interior design for it and the restaurant, whose existing building will be razed to make way for the project.

Also, Cone is the architect on a six-story, 113-unit apartment building planned by Isola Homes for 6515 38th Ave. S.

Among its built work is the seven-story, 75-unit Track66 apartments for Blueprint at 836 N.E. 66th St.

Cone is the architect and interior designer on its estimated $600,000 remodel to change the former Perche No space into its headquarters.

The full interior renovation will give it 3,600 square feet. (It now leases 2,000 square feet in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.)

The design is modern. It calls for adding 900 square feet to the 700-square-foot mezzanine, while keeping the double-height space on the ground floor. That floor will have an open layout with communal work space, a library, informal seating, and a conference room and communal kitchen that will spill into an existing patio.

There will be an art gallery on one side of the building where zoning limits office space to 30 feet of the frontage. The gallery, with local art, will be open to the public for special events.

“We’re excited to be part of the neighborhood,” Carter said.

The mezzanine will have desks and computers, meeting space, a secondary conference room, materials library, and a server and printer room.

The renovation will add skylights and replace all the windows, which will be supplied by Lundgren Enterprises. Swenson Say Faget, the original structural engineer on the building, is serving in that role in the renovation. Berona Engineers is the mechanical engineer and Clark Construction is the contractor.

The exterior will get new paint — perhaps gray or white — and awnings and railings. Kitchen storage will be removed.

The old-world exterior will contrast with the modern, clean lines of the inside.

“What we’re after here is a nice juxtaposition,” Carter said.

He and Squires had wanted to build a headquarters from the ground up but couldn’t find the right land for the right price and have money left over to build, he said.

Alchemy Real Estate found them the Perche No building, which they bought using an LLC for $1.325 million from David and Lily Kong, owners of the restaurant, which operated there for over a decade.

Carter said he took his parents to the restaurant while in the process of buying the building, so he got to talk with the Kongs. Later, the couple gave him pasta, sauce and wine to take home to his family. Carter said he bought a piano the Kongs did not relish moving from the restaurant for his daughter to use. He said he and couple still keep in touch.

They will be guests of honor at the grand opening of the headquarters, which was slated for around July 4, but is now expected by Labor Day, just shy of the firm’s fifth anniversary.

Staff, friends, family, collaborators and clients may be wearing masks, if mandated, at the opening, which may be on multiple nights so fewer people are in the room.

Regardless, said Carter, “we’re going to figure out a way to be together and celebrate.”


Cone Architecture Office Renovation

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