Dorothy Height Apartments

YWCA Pierce County transforms lives through safety, healing, and empowerment. To create a full continuum of services that meets that mission, it created the Dorothy Height Apartments, a new development with 54 units of affordable housing (and one resident manager unit) constructed on an existing parking lot. Bringing together the YWCA’s historic past with its visionary future, the development’s goal is to provide permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence and includes 3,000 sq. ft. of counseling space. The seven-story building was designed to fit in with the more upscale apartments in the downtown area and highlights the YWCA’s value of creating beautiful, healing spaces. The YWCA incorporated many elements of art into the building that conjure the natural world. This colorful artwork includes a mural of the Salish Sea by local artist Claudia Riedener. Ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, the building’s units are spacious and full of light with stunning views of Commencement Bay and Mt. Rainier. Seventy-five percent of the units are reserved for individuals and families exiting homelessness, with the remainder allocated to low-income families or those with disabilities and other barriers to permanent housing. Thirty of the units are tied to Section 8 housing vouchers. The building features several gathering spaces, including a community room and kitchen that opens onto a courtyard with a play structure and picnic tables, as well as a rooftop deck with spectacular views. In addition to the residential space, the building has a separate entrance for the YWCA’s counseling offices.
Client: YWCA Pierce County
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Program: 55 units of affordable housing (10 studios, 17 one-bedroom units, 19 two-bedroom units, and 9 three-bedroom units), community room, courtyard with play structure, rooftop deck, and counseling space.
Highlights: Honorable Mention for Program Resolution in the AIA Washington’s 2021 Civic Design Awards