citizenM Pioneer Square Wins Hospitality Development of the Year
At the NAIOP Washington 2022 Night of the Stars Gala, citizenM took home its second award in the "Hospitality Development" category, this time for its new location at Pioneer Square.
citizenM team accepting a NAOIP Night of the Stars award

About The Award 

NAIOP Washington's "Night of the Stars" program is an annual awards gala recognizing local real estate developments and companies throughout Washington. The awards honor an impressive slate of commercial real estate projects that serve the community with innovations in retail, office, industrial, multi-family, and more. To be selected as a finalist and winner, developments must showcase positive community impact, market adaptability, ingenuity, and local contributions.

Mortenson (General Contractor), Gensler (Architect), and DCI (Structural Engineer) received recognition for their involvement in bringing the unique development to fruition. 

About The Partnership 

The citizenM brand offers a unique hospitality approach to support frequent travelers who crave a simplistic but high-end experience. Mortenson's customer-focused approach and numerous in-house capabilities allow for an effective and collaborative relationship, ultimately helping to further the citizenM brand in several locations across the United States. The Pioneer Square location represents the 3rd citizenM project to be constructed by Mortenson and the 2nd in Seattle. 

citizenM Pioneers Square lobby

Project Overview 

Positioned in the historic Seattle district of Pioneer Square, the project is the 2nd location in Seattle for the Dutch-based hotel brand. The project's prominent position sets it amongst a variety of galleries, shopping, and dining amenities, as well as nearby local attractions and the Seattle Ferry Terminal.  

At ten (10) stories and 70,000 square feet, the hotel boasts 216 keys in small-capsule-like rooms that average 160 SF. Despite the smaller room scale, the finished product provides innovative technology and finishes that create an uncompromising luxury experience and quality night’s sleep. Integrated technology in each suite allows hotel guests complete control over their lighting, entertainment, and alarm system preferences. The high-tech functionality gives additional insight for guests into the hotel's real-time sustainability performance through an impact tracker. citizenM's uncluttered service approach functions via a self-check-in station for easy access. The hotel's versatile lobby offers complete food and bar service while acting as a proper live-work-play environment for meetings, work, or relaxation.

The building's design and construction deliberately reflect the immediate historical context. The façade, comprised primarily of brick and glass, pays homage to the site's previous industrial past. Numerous art installations by local artists enhance and complement the exposed structural components, such as the exposed truss within the main lobby.

citizenM Pioneer Square exterior

From Sawmill to Sanctuary

The project site was originally home to Seattle's first sawmill. The Pioneer Square neighborhood rests on top of the former villages of the local Duwamish and Suquamish peoples.

The complexity of the site's unique history meant demolition and construction teams worked closely with the State Department of Archeology and the Pioneer Square Preservation Board to ensure that any artifacts found during excavation were adequately recorded and preserved.

Due to the rich cultural context, Pioneer Square has become one of the country's premier art districts. Commissioned local artists created one-of-a-kind pieces displayed throughout the hotel and the exterior. The most substantial work is an over 5,000 porcelain tile, 26-foot, 6-inch x 74-foot mural entitled "Schema" that brightly stands out against the building's façade. Created by local indigenous artist Ryan Feddersen, the mosaic incorporates aspects of the city's and Pioneer Square's history by bringing the look of indigenous beadwork and storytelling to a large scale. Other notable and rising local artists showcased throughout include Anthony White, Harold Hollingsworth, Natalie Krick, and Mary Iverson. Their pieces fill the space with a curated yet eclectic mix of eye-catching contemporary art. The result is ultimately a final product representative of the site's former history while staying true to the citizenM brand aesthetic.

citizenM Pioneer Square site

Construction Challenges

The site's historical context and distinct arrowhead-shaped lot presented numerous challenges for the project team throughout the design and construction process. Mortenson was crucial in providing collaborative solutions to produce a structurally innovative building that respected the original intended design. Located on top of the remnants of Henry Yesler's famous steam-powered sawmill, the soil turned into a mush of old sawdust, trash, and compacted mud from the pioneer days– not good for holding weight. As a result, the building sits on a mat foundation supported by 25, 48-inch diameter piles that are 50-60 feet long. Concrete PT decks on the lower floors and cold-formed structural studs on the upper levels reduced the buildings weight and allowed flexibility to incorporate all the required programming.  

The added complexity of the site's nearby waterfront location meant building over the top of the State Route 99 Tunnel. Large concrete grade beams help to "span" the weight of the building across the tunnel to prevent weight on or near it. A dedicated and innovative team was required to coordinate with local agencies and solve additional complexities arising from the tunnel.

citizenM Pioneer Square room


The citizenM Pioneer Square's proximity to Downtown Seattle affords the hotel a strong 100 transit score due to the highly walkable site and accessibility to many public transport options. Guests will note the hotel's lack of on-site parking, intended to promote greener transportation initiatives such as walking, biking, and public transit usage. The absence of a structured parking garage has also eliminated the environmental impact felt by its construction. 

The Mortenson project team additionally employed a sustainably focused demolition waste management strategy that diverted 91% of all construction debris from landfills and towards recycling and reuse. A significant investment in placing environmentally friendly and occupant-healthy materials throughout resulted in over 22 percent of all material costs stemming from sustainably produced materials such as recycled content, wood products, and bio-based products.

The most significant effort was transforming the site’s contaminated soil due to its history as a pioneer sawmill from a brownfield to a clean site. Later converted into a surface parking lot, the site began collecting debris and creating dirty water runoff that flowed directly into the Puget Sound. Applying the citizenM “Good Neighbor” principle, Mortenson cleaned the contaminated soil and mitigated the area to prevent future contamination. Furthermore, the site's development supports a safe and healthy waterfront for Seattle by preventing dirty water runoff.

Learn more about this project