Watershed is an agent of change. The third building to meet Seattle’s Living Building Pilot program requirements, its integrated design raises the bar for the next generation of office design in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Client Name

HessCallahanGrey Group and Spear Street Capital


Seattle, WA

Completion Date

Q2 2020


Landscape Architecture
Environmental Graphic Design
Core & Shell Interior Design
Urban Space Design


Kristen Scott
Principal in Charge

Rachael Meyer
Landscape Architecture Principal

Bernadette Kelly
Interior Design Principal

PROJECT Overview

7 Stories
12,811 SF Site
72,000 GSF
61,000 SF Office
5,000 SF Retail
14 Parking Stalls
100 Bicycle Parking Stalls


Salmon-Safe Certified

Participant in Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program

Living Building Challenge v3.1 Petal Certified from the International Living Future Institute (Materials, Place, and Beauty petals)

Fitwel 3-Star Certified for Weber Thompson Tenant Improvement on L1 and L2


National Institute of Building Sciences
2024 Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building and Community Award Winner

ULI Americas Awards for Excellence
2023 Finalist

2023 AIA COTE Top Ten Award Winner

AIA Honor Awards for Washington Architecture
2022 Young Voices Selection Winner

2022 GRAY Magazine Awards
Grand Winner: Landscape Design

2022 Gold Nugget Awards
Merit Award: Best Landscape Architecture for a Community

See full list of awards

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As the third building to meet Seattle’s Living Building Pilot program requirements, 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 Architecture

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 67% less energy than a benchmark building, with a measured Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 28.2 kBTU/sf/ The total cooling demand was reduced by 14 tons with the integration of electrochromic glass. This self-tinting glass reduces solar heat gain and glare while maximizing thermal comfort, views, and daylighting.

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 is reused in the building. Along with low-flow fixtures, this strategy contributes to using 88% less potable water than a baseline building, better than the 75% requirement for the LBPP.

A dynamic dashboard, signage, interpretive art, and public tours provide inspiration and education.

A healthier building

A palette of natural and local materials reflects the industrious character of the neighborhood and the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. All materials were vetted to reduce ‘Red List’ toxic chemicals, which includes advocacy with manufacturers to increase transparency and disclosure, and improve their formulas. Local sourcing requirements reduced carbon emissions and a one-time carbon offset was purchased for the calculated embodied carbon equivalent of project materials.

Salvaged materials

As part of the LBC, Watershed was required to salvage one item for every 500 square meters. The team salvaged and reused 40% more materials than the requirement, and the construction team recycled 98% of construction waste. Salvaged items from the previous site include wood timbers reused for exterior benches, light fixtures, bike racks, historic signs, and stone countertops. Cedar boards used for board-formed concrete were refinished and used 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 Landscape Architecture

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. 

Stormwater innovation

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, across Troll Avenue.

Aurora Bridge Swales Landscape Architecture

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 shared with 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.

Stormwater rubbing plaque at Watershed in Seattle, WA.

Improving the right of way

Along with DATA 1, Watershed flanks the entrance to Troll Avenue from North 34th Street. As a result, this pedestrian 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 hangar door features a celestial design, and folds up to become a canopy. Clad in CNC-cut weathering steel plates, the 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.”

Client Statement


NIBS Built Environment Awards
The Beyond Green™ High-Performance Building and Community Award

ULI Americas Awards for Excellence
2023 Finalist

2023 AIA COTE Top Ten Award Winner

2022 AIA Honor Awards for Washington Architecture
Young Voices Selection Winner

2022 GRAY Magazine Awards
Grand Winner: Landscape Design

2022 Gold Nugget Awards
Merit Award: Best Landscape Architecture for a Community

2022 WASLA Awards
Honor Award
General Design, Private Ownership

Gold Nugget Awards
2022 Merit Award: Best Commercial Project

Engineering News-Record Best of the Best Projects
2021 Project of the Year Finalist, Excellence in Sustainability

Architizer A+ Award
2021 Popular Choice Award, Concept > Architecture + Water

AISC Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS²)
2021 Merit Award, $15 million to $75 million

NAIOPWA Night of the Stars
2020 Sustainable Office Development of the Year

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
2020 Building of the Year Runner-Up

Watershed in the News

AIA Seattle Reveals Recipients of Its 2022 Honor Awards for Washington Architecture
Architect Magazine
November 17, 2022

AIA Seattle honors best buildings of 2022 by Washington architects
Archinect News
November 11, 2022

Winners Announced for the 2022 Honor Awards for Washington Architecture
AIA Seattle
November 9, 2022

Seattle’s Watershed building lends a hand to the bridge next door
Smart Buildings Technology
April 29, 2022

The Center of the Green Building Universe
Seattle Business Magazine
October 2021

A Gang of Green
Seattle Business Magazine
October 2021

Seattle finally embracing cooling techniques
Daily Journal of Commerce
August 31, 2021

Watershed building wins steel association award
Daily Journal of Commerce
April 23, 2021

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
Biomimicry 3.8
March 14, 2019

Super green Watershed Building headed toward early 2020 finish
Daily Journal of Commerce
January 2, 2019

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