Eleanor Apartments

ClientMercy Housing
LocationBellingham, WA
StatEvergreen Sustainable Development Standards
AwardsWhatcom Housing Alliance, Housing Luminary Award, 2019
HighlightsSenior Housing, Affordable Housing, Community Rooms, Green Space, Pedestrian Friendly, Bicycle Friendly, Evergreen Sustainability Design Standards

Mercy Housing distinguishes itself by providing an array of services to its residents in addition to living spaces. For Eleanor Apartments, an 80-unit affordable senior housing project, the organization’s ethos of health, wellness, and community was an important part of the design.

The project, located on the fringe of downtown in the York historic residential neighborhood, brings new life to an underused corner. To engage people at the street level, the design includes semi-private access to ground-level units, a rain garden ideal for stormwater retention, a P-patch, and a plaza with seating and shade trees. The landscaping, in addition to photovoltaic solar panels, triple pane windows, and enhanced insulation allowed the project to meet Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards.

The building’s interior was organized into a “neighborhood” layout, with each bank of apartments identified by color. Every front door has a space for personalization, encouraging people to interact. The light-filled, one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments are energy-efficient with open layouts, large windows, and plank flooring.

To further encourage socialization, a mail collection area in the lobby is designed with comfortable seating, inviting people to stay for a while. A grand stairway located adjacent to the elevator bank is also an opportunity to meet neighbors in addition to encouraging people to exercise. The apartments utilize Universal Design features, making the building fully accessible.

A large community room beyond is easily accessible as part of the neighborhood and accommodates healthcare workers who offer onsite wellness services to residents. The room can be subdivided into smaller rooms for multiple uses, including an exam room, and can also be used for private consultations. To honor Mercy Housing’s Resident Services program, another ground floor community room was designed as a computer lab and is flexible enough for other activities within the space. This room can be used by the local community under the condition that the seniors are invited to join whatever program is being presented. On the rooftop, an enclosed community space known as the Puzzle Room and a deck provide seniors with an opportunity to gather and enjoy each other and the beautiful views of Mt. Baker.