In the Ballard neighborhood, close to Seattle’s downtown, local architecture firm Graham Baba Architects has completed the Klotski, a mixed-use infill building that emphasizes energy efficiency. Named after the sliding block puzzle that inspired its southern facade, the building uses a mix of high- and low-tech strategies to minimize energy use, including rooftop solar panels, radiant heating, operable windows and sliding metal sunshades. The Klotski is also equipped with rainwater cisterns that collect and recycle rainwater.

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dark metal building with weathered steel screens over the windows

Graham Baba Architects designed the Klotski to reflect the eclectic and industrial roots of the Ballard neighborhood. Built from concrete masonry units and a steel frame, the 10,041-square-foot building features an open floor-plan, exposed structural beams and tall ceilings for a loft-like, industrial feel. The three-story, mixed-use building houses the Trailbend Taproom beer hall on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, a maker space on a self-contained mezzanine level and a studio as well as a small caretaker’s apartment on the top floor. On-site covered parking is accessed off the alley.

Related: Gensler upcycles an old warehouse into creative offices in Austin

people eating at wooden tables outside a dark metal building
room with people working on computers at white desks near a white sofa

Designed to engage the street level, the building is set back from the property line by several feet to create space for outdoor dining while extensive glazing promotes transparency and connection to the community. Generous roof decks — such as the outdoor deck for the studio and apartment on the top floor — and an interior courtyard promote an indoor/ outdoor living experience throughout.

white sofa and two white chairs near a wall of windows
people eating at a small round table on an open-air balcony

Optimized for natural ventilation and daylight, the building features operable windows on the north and south sides. The Klotski-inspired sunshades on the south-facing exterior consist of 7-foot-by-10-foot perforated metal screens that slide up and down to respond to privacy and shading needs that change throughout the seasons.

+ Graham Baba Architects

Photography by Kevin Scott via Graham Baba Architects