The U-District and Ravenna are surprising neighborhoods. They are closer to downtown than you might think in both proximity and character, and while they don’t have an abundance of hot, modern design, they’ve got the stuff that makes for great neighborhoods. The U-District in particular has done an excellent job of adapting and evolving over time. Rather than tearing down older structures, the character of the area is retained as gas stations become breakfast joints, houses become kayak rental shops and high-tech restaurants are taken over by the UW architecture department.

The public transportation in both neighborhoods is excellent; metro delivers its passengers to downtown Seattle in 12 to 16 minutes, direct connection access to the Microsoft campus has been established, and the light rail line is planned to extend up through the area. The Burke-Gilman bike trail passes through the U-District and Ravenna maintains a number of great running/biking trails – in addition to being neighbors with Greenlake. The U-District and Ravenna seem to share the city amenities but retain the peace and quiet of its many parks. Here are some places you should know about:

The Henry Art Gallery gets a constant flow of good design related shows, also check out the James Turrell Skyspace.

University Farmers Market every Saturday from 9am to 2pm. This is the real deal – farmers only, no bead stands, antiques or tarot card readings.

Tenpachi Salon and Store at 5611 University Way NE -clean, modern cuts. Go to the full Tenpachi post here

[Photo by Aaron Leitz]

Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club at 1303 NE Boat St -Good Mexican food and kayak rentals on lake Union

Originally built as the “Man Bites Dog Restaurant” at University Way & 40th and designed by the Barnett Schorr Miller Company in 1978. The structure was deemed 1970’s high-tech design and expected to last no more than a decade. 30 years later it’s still there and has served a wide range of functions including a video arcade. Currently it’s owned by the UW school of architecture.

American Apparel at 4345 University Way NE -glass walls, clean lines and scantily clad models

The Deca Hotel and University Lounge at 4507 Brooklyn Ave by R.C. Reamer, 1931

The simple, rickety fruit stand at University Way NE & 65th actually has a modern look and feel of pure function -old school fruit and veggies is the new modern.

Stainless steel clad building at 6211 Roosevelt -home of TCA architects.

Corrugated steel clad building at Roosevelt Way NE & 63rd Str.

U-Bookstore at 4326 University Way NE

The Urban Outfitters shop 4518 University Way is a recent conversion of the old Tower Records space with cool corner windows.

The Whole Foods Roosevelt isn’t modern in aesthetics but the concept is forward thinking and it’s the hub the neighborhood – it’s where you see your neighbors. They offer a packed calendar of cooking classes as well.

3rd Place books and Honey Bear Bakery – books, pastries and coffee with that mom-&-pop shop feel

Pizza Brava at 4222 University Way NE, real neighborhoods have good pizza joints.

The U-District has been called a film goers paradise as the 6 theaters cover the range from blockbusters to independent films and everything in between.

Dwell Roosevelt modern condos at 1026 NE 65th

Nordheim Court modern apartments at 5000 25th Ave NE

The Park Modern at 5611 University Way NE -clean, modern city living, 2 flats left.  Read more about the Park modern here and here.

[Photo by Art Grice]

Herkimer Coffee Shop at 5611 University Way NE – good beans and a modern shop.

University Village

Apple Store at U-Village -ahh the beacon of modern design…

Blue C Sushi at U-Village

Crate & Barrel at U-Village -we’re not typically fans of big box chain stores but the building has some interesting massing and pleasing materials.

15th Ave Art Deco Bridge over Ravenna Park

Running trail through the lush forest of Ravenna Park.

Cowen Park provides wide open space for volley ball and baseball.

The University of Washington campus is filled with impressive pieces of architecture like the William H. Foege Building.

Physics Building by Cesar Pelli, 1994 – Check out the sundial and Foulcault Pendulum

Hidden in the trees along Rainier Vista on the UW campus is Winkenwerder Hall, a mid-century modern gem.

Paul Allen Computer Science Building

Faculty Center by Steinbrueck and Kirk, 1960 – one of the purist mid-century modern examples in Seattle.

McMahon Hall by Kirk, Wallace & McKinley, 1965

Photo of Tenpachi Salon by by Aaron Leitz, Photo of Park Modern by Art Grice
All other photos by BUILD llc