Many of Puget Sound’s most beloved buildings were born from our rugged site and climatic conditions. Notable Northwest architects Paul Thiry, Wendell Lovett and Paul Hayden Kirk developed the architectural language of Northwest Regionalism, favoring locally harvested wood and stone that echoed the forested landscape and framed vistas of our mountains and waterways. Continue reading “Mass timber is bringing the warmth of wood to the workplace”
Cedar Speedster, a new 3-story heavy timber, 30,000 SF mixed-use retail-office building in Fremont located at 401 N 36th Street, is nearing completion in July of this year. The cedar-clad building’s name is a nod both to the neighborhood’s role in the region’s timber industry and to George Pocock, a local boat builder whose handcrafted cedar rowing shells were nicknamed Cedar Speedsters among University of Washington crews. Continue reading “Press Release: Strong Lease-up at Fremont’s New Cedar Speedster Mixed-Use Building Leaves Only one Leasable Retail/Office Space Remaining”
Biophilic design has connected workers with the natural world, making them healthier and happier.
This year Weber Thompson is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of The Terry Thomas, the award-winning, LEED gold, passively cooled office building we designed and have been inhabiting since it opened. As part of that celebration, we thought it worthwhile to back-check our project against two frameworks for biophilic design, equipped with new vocabulary, science and best practices. Continue reading “10 years later: Weber Thompson’s HQ is better with nature”
Back in 2009, Joshua McNichols from KUOW Public Radio first wrote about the Terry Thomas building in an article exploring “alphabet” shaped buildings (the Terry Thomas is an ‘O’) that utilize thermal chimneys instead of air conditioning. Nearly ten years later he stopped by again to chat with Weber Thompson partner, Kristen Scott, and to check-in with us to see how we are faring with the recent stretch of hot weather in Seattle while working in a passively cooled environment. Continue reading “TT10/WT30 Exclusive: Welcoming KUOW back to the Terry Thomas”
2018 marks the tenth anniversary of The Terry Thomas building in South Lake Union, Seattle.
Home to Weber Thompson’s offices, it’s near and dear to our hearts, and is at the core of our sustainable design philosophy. Recently, the marketing team sat down with a few members of WT’s Commercial Office Design Studio to get a little background on what has changed, what hasn’t, and how our commercial office work has evolved in the last ten years.
Principal, director of sustainability
Q1: From your perspective, what makes The Terry Thomas Building unique?
Kristen: It’s a great example of traditional passive design with a strong connection to nature, daylighting, and fresh air.
Myer: I love that it’s a combination of low-tech and high-tech solutions. For example, operable windows combined with automated louvers, which are a passive solution that’s been expressed architecturally. The windows are fully manual, while the louvers are tied to carbon dioxide and temperature sensors.
Cody: For me, it’s the visual connection with other tenants and other staff through the courtyard.
Can you tell us more about how this building has potentially influenced other green buildings in the last ten years?
Myer: The central outdoor stair with green wall, designed to encourage healthy habits and reduce energy use in the Terry Thomas, is a predecessor to current best practice appearing in rating systems like LEED, WELL, and Fitwel. It is akin to the “irresistible” stair in the Bullitt Center and the feature stair of Stone 34. Some of the Terry Thomas’ design solutions have internally influenced our own multifamily and office projects. Sunset Electric in Capitol Hill has a similar size courtyard, and locates windows on both sides of each apartment unit as passive design strategy to improve light and air for residents.
Q2: Which features of the building are still just as innovative today as they were 10 years ago?
Kristen: The courtyard as an exterior shared ‘lobby’ of sorts! The building doesn’t have a hard public/private space transition, which is still quite unusual. It provides a type of outdoor community living room for everyone from folks eating lunch from the neighborhood food trucks to curious passersby to being used as an extra conference room for meetings in the summer.
Myer: The building’s operable windows, daylight, and castellated beams. In WT’s office space, the double-duty use of acoustic panels as indirect lighting panels in the workstation area and conference rooms, and as pin up boards. Also, the layout pulling the workstations away from the perimeter prevents “window wars,” allows for even thermal conditions and helps reduce glare.
Images of The Terry Thomas
Q3: Are there any features that wouldn’t be viable in a new building today? If so, why?
Kristen: The louvers, while a great idea, are too thermally leaky to specify in a new building today. To use louvers these days, we’d need to find an insulated solution.
Myer: The operable exterior blinds turned out to be a challenge. We learned that with high-tech, proprietary, software-controlled solutions, you take a risk. The company that created the software to automatically control the louvers went out of business, so now they don’t function reliably as designed.
Cody: With global temps on the rise, Seattle may soon not be the passive design “slam dunk” of a climate zone that we’ve been accustomed to. We’re learning more about Passive House and other methods to supplement the strategies used in the Terry Thomas to ensure that we deliver high performance projects.
Q4: The Terry Thomas was a legacy project for WT founding partner Scott Thompson. In what ways was Scott’s design leadership expressed in the building, and how has his philosophy influenced the firm’s more recent commercial office work?
“Scott’s focus was on sustainability that, as a goal, is practical and achievable.”
Kristen: Scott’s focus was on sustainability that, as a goal, is practical and achievable. He preached that you should never focus your design on anything that can be VE’d out; you need to have a strong design parti which can be executed with off-the-shelf materials.
This practical design approach has certainly influenced our current commercial office work. The evolution of The Terry Thomas ‘sunglasses’ are a great example. They’ve evolved into metal horizontal shades and blue glass vertical fins at DATA 1, electrochromic (self-tinting) glass at Watershed, and one of our newest projects will likely feature a simple scrim. In all of these projects, the system matters less than the commitment to reducing heat gain via an architectural solution.
Myer: Scott focused on simple, low-cost, replicable solutions. He was less interested in creating one-off, high-price-tag projects. He was proud of providing a single, slow elevator in the Terry Thomas, less than what a typical vertical transportation engineer would recommend for a building like ours. This reduced cost while encouraging people to take the stairs, thereby reducing energy loads and burning a few calories. It was a win-win-win.
Q5: What is your favorite ‘fun fact’ about the building?
Kristen: I love the “ghost shaft” that we added to the core in case whole building air conditioning became necessary, but it’s never been used and most people don’t know it’s there.
Myer: The building won a national award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), while the building uses simple, time-tested heating technology and doesn’t have air conditioning!
Cody: I’ll always love that the former building was Pearl Jam’s practice studio, and the art piece in the lobby is made of reclaimed floor from that building, assembled and dedicated by RAFN, the general contractor. I hope someday Eddie Vedder will come check it out!
Q6: From day one, the building has been used as a learning laboratory. What lessons have you learned from the building and how have you applied those lessons?
Kristen: We’ve learned that 11’-0” floor to floor works very well given an open ceiling, no mechanical system and castellated steel beams! By pulling circulation to the edges of the floorplate we gave everyone access to daylight and fresh air with floor to ceiling glass. On the flip side, as the neighborhood has changed, the increased noise and glare from the sun bouncing off the adjacent Amazon towers has been challenging, but we’re adapting.
Myer: We’ve done a handful of studies in our office, to learn more about thermal and environmental comfort, artificial lighting, glare, and workstation energy habits. What we’re really focusing on now is how to affect occupant behavior – for example, how to reduce plug loads when people are not in the office.
Q7: Weber Thompson has become a leader in boutique high performance office design in the Pacific Northwest. How has WT’s ethos about workplace design evolved since designing The Terry Thomas?
Kristen: That evolution is still in progress! With DATA 1, we layered many concepts to create a fabric of sustainable solutions. With our next project, Watershed, we simplified the design with massing shifts that respond to the public view of the water down Troll Avenue while focusing on the Living Building imperatives. With our newest commercial office project, Living Stone, we’re honing it even further. Through it all though, we’ve retained our dedication to creating placemaking opportunities – whether through courtyards, outdoor gathering places, landscape design that showcases storm water education, or contributing to the greater good of the community through design.
Cody: We’ve learned a lot from our residential design work that we’ve been applying to our commercial office design; for example, amenity spaces. As the talent war continues, offices need to be attractive to employees which includes amenities like bike and locker facilities, work out rooms, etc. But at the same time, there is a need to balance the priorities of all the end users, while still prioritizing building performance. There will always be a balance.
Myer: Because we are the core and shell building architect, tenant improvement designer, and tenant, we’ve certainly learned some lessons that apply to many other active projects. We’re learning how to accommodate higher occupancy density while balancing a need for privacy, through small and large conference spaces, phone rooms, etc. We’re also recognizing the need for real-time building performance data, and understanding whether the opportunities are for the biggest impact for office energy use.
Q8: Ten years isn’t that old for a building, but yet it seems that South Lake Union has changed dramatically. What do you think the next ten years and beyond have in store for The Terry Thomas?
Kristen: I foresee that there won’t be a need for two levels of parking in the future, as transit and bike infrastructure improves. It begs the question: what could it become? Retail? Amenities? A water cistern? A huge bike room with lockers?
Cody: I think that SLU will become more diverse, and less homogenous demographically. This might open up opportunities for ground related retail or more service-oriented uses.
Myer: As the neighborhood grows around us in future development cycles, I see The Terry Thomas becoming a beloved unofficial landmark of South Lake Union, perhaps like the Edith Macefield house (also known as the ‘Up house’) in Ballard. It could both identify with the fabric of the neighborhood and be a vestige of the past.
Kristen Scott, AIA, LEED® AP
Kristen is Senior Principal and the head of Weber Thompson’s Commercial Office team. Her background spans from designing a broad range of multifamily and mixed-use buildings to leading teams designing commercial tenant improvements and high performance office buildings.
Myer Harrell, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C
Myer is known throughout Seattle as a dedicated architect with a passion for smart sustainable design. At Weber Thompson, he’s a Principal and Director of Sustainability overseeing and consulting on projects to ensure appropriate levels of sustainable design. Myer was a member of the award-winning design team for Eco-Laboratory which won the national USGBC 2008 Natural Talent Design Competition and a key member of the Office of the Future R&D team.
Cody Lodi, AIA, LEED® AP
Cody is a Senior Associate at Weber Thompson. An Architect with ten years of experience, he helps envision, manage and execute projects ranging from Living Building commercial offices to mixed use and multifamily residential work. Additionally, he is an advocate for the use of virtual and augmented reality tools in the design industry and regularly uses new technology to communicate spatial experience to clients and end users.
While I have proven my passion for designing for those with physical disabilities with the creation of the residential multi-family targeted “Rachael Shower Pan”, I also believe there are strategies to expand accessible design outside the home to the next place we spend most of our time (if not more than our own residence) – the office. Continue reading “Designing for mental health: Six strategies to consider in workplace design”
Weber Thompson’s most recently completed commercial office project, DATA 1, received the Office Development of the Year award at the NAIOP Night of the Stars ceremony on Friday, November 3rd 2017. This marks the fourth consecutive year that a Weber Thompson project has received an award at the annual ceremony. Continue reading “DATA 1 Takes Home NAIOP Night of the Stars award for Office Development of the Year”
Meet Brock Williams, a Project Manager in Weber Thompson’s High Rise and Hospitality Design Studios. He has a wealth of experience in hotels, restaurants, commercial office buildings and tenant improvements. Learn more about him in this Q & A, or visit our website to read his bio.
Brock Williams, Project Manager
How long have you worked at Weber Thompson and what is your favorite thing about working here?
I’ve worked at Weber Thompson for almost a year now and one of the things I like most about working here is the support I get from the office and individuals to pursue my professional goals and balance work and life outside of work. Continue reading “Meet the Staff: Brock Williams”
It’s amazing what humans can achieve when we are faced with a dilemma. Our current environmental predicament has sparked a surge of creativity from designers leading the way to a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow. I’ve been tremendously inspired by the groundbreaking standards put forth by the Living Future Institute, and was excited to attend the Living Product Healthy Materials Summit at the 2016 ILFI unConference.
When I attended the Living Future Conference a few years back, there was a lot of discussion about how difficult it would be to actually meet the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Some felt that it was something they may never be able to achieve. Incredibly, what seemed so difficult to achieve a few years ago has become a new standard in sustainability.
A wide variety of industry professionals presented on how they are implementing the LBC, and using the Declare label to show transparency. With manufacturers and specifiers working together, real change is happening. A presentation on the Healthy Materials Collaborative shed light on the local group of architects and designers working to advocate for healthy building products.
Weber Thompson has been part of the Healthy Materials Collaborative (HMC) since its recent founding. Through the HMC, Weber Thompson has been able to further our sustainability goals and break down barriers to healthy, sustainable buildings. Our tremendous experience with LEED, Built Green, as well as current LBC and Passive House projects is helpful to other HMC members trying to achieve these rigorous building standards.
This year, we are combing through our entire materials library, to make it easier for our designers and architects to specify healthy materials. We are asking manufacturers to show transparency with their products so that we can make informed design decisions. We are also asking manufacturers to label their products with sustainability information so we can easily see which products meet green building standards. Continue reading “Healthy Materials for a Better World”
What is your Name & Title/Role? Bernadette Rubio, Interior Design Principal
You were just promoted! What about this new role excites you the most?
I’ve been with WT for almost four years and have been part of an incredible group of designers. Carrie Smith has been instrumental in making that happen and I learned a lot from working alongside her. What I’m really excited about is building upon that success, taking the WTid team to the next level and helping each of our team members flourish as designers.
What has been your favorite project?
My favorite project is a tossup between 4730 California Apartments in West Seattle and Pike Motorworks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Both projects were urban infill projects developed by The Wolff Company. Each project design was inspired by the uniqueness of their respective neighborhoods.
These projects were successful because the entire design team, especially the client, stayed true to the concept and were committed to executing the design throughout the process. It’s a testament to a great client/designer/contractor team relationship. Continue reading “Meet the Staff: Bernadette Rubio”