Retail Rebirth, Part III

Dockside debuts an elevated look in Seattle's Freland neighborhood
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Posted September 12, 2019

Retail Renovation Competition, First Place
Conversion – Specialty Store, Sales Area Under 10,000 SQ. FT.
Dockside Cannabis Ballard, Seattle
Submitted by: Graham Baba Architects, Seattle

Within a state that had recently legalized recreational cannabis, Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects, the designers of Dockside Cannabis Ballard, in Seattle’s newly trendy Freland neighborhood, had few preconceptions of what the environment would look like. The area, in the midst of a transition from its industrial, maritime heritage toward a residential-commercial mix attracting young professionals and families, is a destination for makers, fabricators, craft brewers and artists. The team knew it needed to distinguish it from the types of stores commonly found in the suddenly flooded marketplace.

“We wanted to break free of the stigma of cannabis shops of the past,” says Brett Baba, Partner, Graham Baba Architects. “We aimed to offer an alternative that conveys an upscale experience: open and inviting from the outside; professional, clean and contemporary on the inside.”

Converting a former metal fabrication shop, they sourced clean, fresh materials and added large new apertures to transform the building. VMSD competition judge Claudia Cerchiara, Client Leader – Retail at BHDP Architecture (Cincinnati), commented, “You can see how the [building’s] change impacted the whole area.” By removing the existing low ceiling and replacing it with scissor trusses, the interior became more spacious, and skylights bathe the space in natural lighting.

Navigating heavy regulation is an innate challenge of marijuana retail, and it was one the designers sought to tackle in a new way. Law dictates that product be stored behind glass per no-touch requirements, and while many marijuana retailers store product in glass sales counters – leading to bottlenecks and intimidation – they opted to merchandise product in the store’s center, where it could be browsed in a less inhibited, more leisurely way.

For more winners from VMSD's 2019 Retail Renovation Competition, be sure to check vmsd.com throughout the month of September. 

For Retail Rebirth, Part I, click here
For Retail Rebirth, Part II, click here