Watershed is an agent of change; pursuing the 2014 version of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot program. It’s integrated design raises the bar for the next generation of office design in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Hess Callahan Grey Group
7-Story Commercial Building
12,811 SF Site
61,000 SF Office
5,000 SF Retail
14 Parking Stalls
100 Bicycle Parking Stalls
Pursuing Petal Recognition from the International Living Future Institute focusing on the Materials Petal
Pursing Fitwell Certification for Weber Thompson Tenant Improvement
One of a handful of buildings enrolled in Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program, Watershed goes beyond the boundaries of its site to do good. Weber Thompson’s architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and graphic design teams collaborated to create this one-of-a-kind building and urban space.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Meghan Montgomery / Built Work Photography, WEBER THOMPSon
Watershed’s simple form reflects the beauty of its surroundings. The dramatic roof cantilever clad in warm cedar draws the eye.
High Tech, Big Impact
Watershed uses 25% less energy than a code-compliant building, with a target of 32 EUI (kBTU/sf/year). Self-tinting electrochromic glass reduces solar heat gain and glare while maximizing thermal comfort, and maintaining views and daylighting. This reduced HVAC equipment by 14 tons.
75% Potable Water Reduction
A dramatic, overhanging roof captures rainwater falling on site, and carries it via a sculptural gutter system to an oversized steel scupper before storing it in a 20,000-gallon cistern for non-potable uses. More than half the water falling onsite will be reused in the building. Along with low-flow fixtures, this strategy contributes to 75% less potable water use than a baseline building.
A Healthier Building
All materials were vetted to reduce ‘Red List’ toxic chemicals, which includes advocacy with manufacturers to improve their formulas. Local sourcing requirements reduced carbon emissions due to product shipping. Salvaged and recycled materials contributed to reduced resource extraction. A one-time offset was purchased for the calculated carbon equivalent of materials. The simple palette favors natural/local materials.
As part of the LBPP, Watershed was required to salvage one item for every 500 square meters (5,382 sq ft) and the construction team recycled 98% of construction waste. Salvaged items from the previous site include wood timbers reused for exterior benches and bike room light fixtures. Board-formed concrete was reused as a lobby wall covering. A portion of the existing concrete foundation walls were reused for temporary shoring, eliminating 100 tons of concrete waste.
Watershed sets the standard for transforming our city’s right of ways into vibrant, healthy and functional landscapes. Watershed’s two street frontages support the ground level retail in the building while also treating stormwater from the historic Aurora Bridge.
Watershed reaches beyond property lines to divert polluted Aurora Bridge runoff. The water is treated through an innovative series of stepped bioretention planters before reaching Lake Union, a major salmon migration route. Annually, over 400,000 gallons of this toxic stormwater runoff comes from the overhead Aurora Bridge, doubling the effort from the development team’s previous office project, DATA 1, seen just across the street.
A Catalyst for Action
Thanks to the work at Watershed and DATA 1, a third phase of Aurora Bridge stormwater management has been built across 34th Street to the south. Combined, these three phases will mitigate two million gallons of polluted bridge water that is currently dumping into Lake Union. A 501c3 organization, Clean Lake Union, has been raising funds and hosting awareness events to support these projects and many more in the queue. The impact of this work is a cleaner environment for dwindling salmon populations linked to the decline of local orca whales.
An Urban Apiary
A collection of pollinator plants provide habitat for honeybees, which will call the four honey bee hives located on the roof of the building home. The hives will produce up to 50 lbs of honey annually, which will be collected and sold to building residents. The hives contribute to the Urban Agriculture Imperative of the Living Building Challenge.
Watershed Environmental Graphic Design
Weber Thompson’s Graphic Design Studio was tapped to contribute concepts for various art and signage elements throughout the project including educational signage and the weathering steel gate design that greets tenants and visitors.
Improving the Right of Way
Along with DATA 1, Watershed flanks the entrance to Troll Avenue from North 34th Street. As a result this route to the Fremont Troll is no longer a dark, damp slog up the hill. Visitors to our beautiful city now experience a lushly planted hill climb on their journey, reading educational signage and learning about the project’s unique approach to water collection, evaporation, filtration, and conservation. Bronze plaques incorporated into the signage can be made into artistic rubbings.
A Dramatic Entrance
At the main entry to the building, a weathering steel gate features a celestial design, and folds up to become a canopy element. This design was inspired by the Fremont neighborhood’s ‘Center of the Universe’ declaration, and the annual Fremont Solstice Parade.
Deep green design is a departure from the typical development pathway, but it can have big payoffs. Projects like Watershed create positive momentum, generate market attention and media buzz. As the ownership team found in the last recession, Watershed will be more likely to retain clients through a downturn than its conventional peers. Additionally, with social and environmental issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds, buildings that adhere to standards like those of the LBPP will more likely align with future tenant’s values, standing out in the marketplace.
“In a city that cares deeply about sustainability, Watershed sets the standard for green building design and development. It creates immediate value for future tenants and the surrounding neighborhood.”
Watershed in the News
Going ‘deep green,’ office buildings give back to the planet
The New York Times
July 14, 2020
Project of the week: Watershed Building
Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
June 15, 2020
Innovative deep-green Watershed Building delivers in Seattle
Connect Seattle CRE
May 26, 2020
How genius of place helps you think (and design!) differently
March 14, 2019
Report: Downtown Seattle office market to remain strong in 2019 despite potential slowdown in Amazon commitments
January 31, 2019
Super green Watershed Building headed toward early 2020 finish
Daily Journal of Commerce
January 2, 2019