Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Interior Design: Nell Studio
Project team: Steve Erickson, Nell Sanger, Christopher Mosier
Project area: 28,500 sqf
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Sam Van Fleet
Turner Northwest, an internationally known construction company, asked us to design the renovation and expansion of their existing SODO-area offices. Turner wanted to maintain the open loft feel of the 1910-era building’s exposed heavy-timber structure, but update the twelve year-old design with fresh ecologically responsible materials. From a functional and organizational standpoint, Turner wanted to increase density and efficiency in open work areas, increase the number of private meeting areas and create more desirable common spaces to foster greater intra-firm communication. These goals along with LEED Gold Certification had to be accomplished and the project constructed while remaining fully operational and keeping to a moderate budget.
Partial height walls in neutral tones divide the high-bay loft space while allowing the heavy-timber structural grid to provide overall order. Environmentally friendly materials presented in their natural state delineate individual functions within the office. For example, regionally and sustainably harvested Myrtle wood paneling is used at highly visible areas such as the reception, special conference areas and the rooftop lounge. As a counterpoint to the wood, sheets of unpainted steel and unprocessed translucent resin define the open work areas and re-appear in locations such as the reception desk and elevator cabs. FSC Certified maple-veneer plywood is used for all casegoods.
The formerly underutilized rooftop pavilion is now a Mecca that has helped unit the company by breaking down barriers between people and departments who reside on different floors. To facilitate informal meetings, relaxation and socializing the design team introduced a domestic vibe to space. Comfortable lounge seating, wood paneling and richly colored area rugs soften the “living room” portion of the vaulted and light-filled space. A bar-height counter made of metal-infused resin and aluminum stools anchor the “kitchen” portion. A large family-style dining table mediates between both areas.
By remaining in their current space and retaining many of the core elements from their 1994 build-out, a new feel needed to be created while retaining the original context. This paradox placed particular emphasis on the use of new materials, which is a challenge when one of the project goals is to focus on sustainability. While the design retained 40% of the existing interior elements as well as 49% of the existing furnishings, the design has met Turner’s goals creating a completely re-imagined work environment along with a significant increase in space utilization.
Along with reusing existing interior materials and furniture, the design and construction team also took additional steps to meet LEED Gold standards; 98% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, water use was reduced by 38%, and lighting-power-density was decreased 19%. Additionally 42% of project materials were regionally manufactured, 15% were regionally extracted while Turner opted to purchase 50% of their electricity from renewable resources.