Inside The Tallest Building On The West Coast Designed By An All-Female Team: The Emerald

Situated directly above Pike Place Market, The Emerald is one of downtown Seattle’s most highly anticipated condominium buildings. Managed by the all-female design team of Julia Nagele of HEWITT Architecture and Susan Marinello of Susan Marinello Interiors, it is the tallest building on the West Coast designed by a female architect, rising 40 stories high with breathtaking views of Puget Sound.

Working among other women was an empowering experience for Nagele and Marinello. “We come from a male-dominated industry, which is why The Emerald is a milestone for women in architecture and design,” Nagele comments. The team worked carefully to create interior spaces that complemented the city’s dynamic surroundings, notes Marinello. “The views from all sides, of water, mountains, sun, building lights and the ever-changing Seattle weather, dictated a quieter interior palette that is complementary to the views.”

It was integral to Nagele that the building reflected the neighborhood’s unique character, a place where she has worked for years. “I understand the vibrant energy here,” she shares. “In fact, our office is next door to the site. The site itself is unique in that it is very small and at the rotation of Seattle’s street grid. The massing of the building reflects the angles of this shift, and the materials reflect both the natural landscape surrounding Puget Sound and the grit of the city.”

Beyond the design, there were inevitable challenges for the team, Nagele admits. “As a woman, I’ve often felt I must work ten times harder to gain my clients’ trust. It’s true for any project in Seattle or elsewhere. Historically, women have always been in the design field, but their contributions have been overlooked by their male counterparts. So, while change is on its way for women in architecture, we’re not there yet.”

Architect: Julia Nagele, HEWITT Architecture
Principal & Design Director: Susan Marinello, Susan Marinello Interiors
Developer: Daniels Create World Seattle
Rendering: Steel Blue

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