Re-Connection

As we wrap up the second week in our new home, one of the most pleasant surprises for me is our re-connection to the outside world. We have daylight, fresh air, activity, and movement – a striking contrast to our former digs. For years we sat in a hermetically sealed building 8-10 hours a day with little interaction or contact with the outside world. Now, most of us sit 5-10 feet away from an operable window. The simple opportunity of walking up a flight of exterior stairs in the courtyard contributes to that connectivity.

All of us anxiously await the opportunity to open the windows to see how this all works. The good news is that reports from team members last Saturday (temperature hit 81 degrees in Seattle) indicated the space was comfortable around 4:30pm with the windows closed. It appears that the dampers are doing their job. At our principals meeting last Monday, it was quite evident that the systems were operating as planned in the conference rooms. Within five minutes, the CO2 sensors were opening the dampers, (plenty of hot air in that meeting) and the lighting levels were fluctuating based on cloud cover. A few distractions we will adapt to. Continue reading “Re-Connection”

Transition

Today marks the end of our 17 year relationship with the Pontius Building (former headquarters of Howard S. Wright Construction). Weber Thompson grew up in this early ‘80s building, evolving from a handful of architects/designers into a multi-discipline design firm of ninety architects, designers, planners, interior designers and landscape architects.

Monday morning we will welcome natural daylighting, natural ventilation and a wonderful new office space. Will this new environment encourage us to do better work, promote a sense of community/teamwork, and inspire our clients to develop sustainable buildings? Three years of dreaming, planning, designing and constructing wraps up as we transition into a new era at Weber Thompson. We look forward to the challenges of the next 20 years.

As we get settled and start living in the building, the blog posts will be weekly, with others in the WT community contributing thoughts, experiences and performance data related to this building.

If anyone is interested in taking a tour of the Terry Thomas building, please contact Elizabeth Holland via email at eholland@weberthompson.com. Everyone is welcome.

-Scott Thompson AIA, LEED AP, Principal in Charge of The Terry Thomas

The big picture

As we continue to prepare to move into our new building on April 4, we want to be clear that this transition is more than about the building. This project symbolizes our overall business model, which fully embraces environmental sustainability.

Operationally, a recycling program at our new headquarters is mandatory. All tenants in the new building must c ommit to using recycled and environmentally friendly products  — both in their tenant improvement and in their daily operations and cleaning.  In our office, every TI includes at least one sustainable aspect, from the low-emitting VOC finishes and recycled content of furnishings to the fully dimmable, computer-controlled, indirect fluorescent lighting system.  We already operate sustainably in our current office space, and we’re developing a building operations manual and a tenant manual for our company and other tenants of the new building.

At Weber + Thompson, we’ve been working to operate more sustainably for a long time.  We established an active Green Team, a group of dedicated staff members who are committed to “greening” the firm and making Weber + Thompson carbon neutral. The team calculated the firm’s carbon footprint by examining the office’s energy use, employee commuting habits and business travel and is taking steps to offset our consumption by encouraging alternate transit operations, replacing the employee parking subsidy benefit with a transit FlexPass, purchasing green power, and organizing weekend tree planting parties in the greater Seattle area. We also takes steps to reduce waste by donating money to local charities in lieu of giving out trinkets at the holidays and giving scrap paper to the nearby New Discovery School and Cascade People’s Center to be used as art supplies.

Our firm has been a part of the South Lake Union neighborhood for 17 years, and it was important for us to demonstrate commitment to the evolution of the neighborhood. We hope our building contributes not only to the physical revitalization of the neighborhood, but to the greater good of our community and society as a whole.

We’re anxious to show off our new building. During tours, we’ll explain the green features of both the building and our operations.

-Scott Thompson AIA, LEED AP, Principal in Charge of The Terry Thomas

Striking the right balance

Contractors continue installing the “sun glasses” on the east and west sides of the building. The glass shades add an interesting dimension to these façades with a splash of green cast on the windows and metal siding when the sun is out – a pleasant surprise.

The challenge with all buildings is striking that balance between natural daylight and solar gain. The beauty of the glass shades is the ability to significantly reduce the heat gain without compromising natural daylight into the interior spaces. Abutting an existing building to the south was a significant asset in controlling our interior environment.

Continue reading “Striking the right balance”

In the home stretch

It was a year ago this week that construction of the Terry Avenue Office Building began.  We are excited that construction is in

the home stretch, and we’re counting down the days until we move into our new headquarters.  The firm will be taking occupancy April 4th.
To share what we’ve learned, and to encourage green design dialogue, we are launching this blog.

It has been three years since we started discussing the idea of developing a new home for Weber + Thompson. We were fortunate enough to find a prime piece of land in the South Lake Union neighborhood (the northeast corner of Thomas Street and Terry Avenue North), a developer (First Western Development) open to the idea of green design, and a savvy contractor (RAFN Company) willing to work with us on this pioneering project in a time of escalating construction costs.

As the building has taken shape, the hours of design study, consultant input and contractor/architect communication has paid off. The natural light throughout the interior spaces, the scale of the courtyard, and the building’s transparency has exceeded our expectations.  All these factors are more impressive when you take into account that we are still in the winter months!
As the “sunglasses” get attached to exterior, the louvers get hung and the TIs wrap up, we are anxious to see how this building will perform. The extensive thermal modeling tells us that – without air conditioning – indoor temperatures may exceed 80 degrees 18-21 hours a year. Will the 36-foot-deep floor plates, operable windows and the courtyard promote adequate cross ventilation? Will we meet our goal of

a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption? It will be a couple of years before we can answer some of these questions.

This is a building where we will have control of our environment and will be actively involved in its performance. We look forward to the challenge.

We will post weekly updates on the progress and performance of the building.

-Scott Thompson AIA, LEED AP, Principal in Charge of The Terry Thomas