Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe

Architect: Board & Vellum

Location: Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Scope: Commerical, Whole House Restoration

The intention of Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe‘s owners Danielle and David Hulton; architect Jeff Pelletier of Board & Vellum; and the Model Remodel crew was to preserve the character of this 1920s craftsman home and the Capitol Hill neighborhood, while creating a space that customers would want to pass the hours.

The Model Remodel crew transformed the house into the bookstore you see today by removing the interior walls and ceiling of the house and opening the space up. In addition, the crew expanded the space with a 2,500-square-foot addition in the back. In the process of opening up the space, Model Remodel salvaged the lumber from the original design of the house. The crew used it for the point-of-sales shelving, book-shelving units, and cabinetry. Los Angeles-based artist Nicholas Hernandez used some of the remaining salvaged wood for a hanging sculpture of the Space Needle outside the building. The crew also salvaged the old paneled doors from the original space, which turned into a creative demarcation between the books and the café.

The space has an interesting history. Horizon Books turned the residential house into a bookstore in the early 1970s. The used bookstore closed in 2009. In a story by the Stranger, one Seattleite in the comments section remarked that he couldn’t think of a better replacement for Horizon Books than Ada’s. In between Horizon and Ada’s, the house had a colorful shell of yarn bombings.

The new store has earned a Historic Seattle award in the category of Preserving Neighborhood Character, in addition to a citation from the prestigious Residential Architect Design Awards (RADA). Ada’s also received glowing press in the Capitol Hill blogthe Strangerthe Daily Journal of Commerce, the Puget Sound Business JournalCityArts and Seattle Met’s Shop Talk blog. All involved are especially proud of the opening line from the Stranger, “This could very well be the new most beautiful bookstore in Seattle.”

Photo credit: Cindy Apple Photography


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