Weber Thompson Office Tenant Improvement
How do you design a workplace for a bunch of architects? Very carefully.
9,000 SF Commercial Office Tenant Improvement
Meets Living Building Challenge Materials Petal and contributes to Living Building Pilot energy & water reduction requirements
All products and materials are LBC Red List-free or Red List-compliant.
PHOTOGRAPHY: WEBER THOMPSON
Learning Laboratory 2.0
After over a decade in the innovative Terry Thomas building, Weber Thompson has relocated to the award-winning Living Building Pilot Program building, Watershed. The new 9,000 SF office is outfitted with red-list free materials, reclaimed elements, neutral colors, an open floor plan, and a variety of meeting spaces to help great ideas thrive.
Designing a process
Designing one’s own office is an excellent chance to look inward. For Weber Thompson, this meant designing a process that would maximize input from the entire firm. The design team began with an internal design charrette to generate ideas for how employees would live in and use the space.
Themes emerged: Connect with the outdoors and the surrounding neighborhood; maintain access to daylight; foster opportunities for connection; designate an area for hands-on projects; showcase the Weber Thompson design aesthetic. The team used these themes as the starting point for the design, developing the concepts through 3D modeling tools and sharing with the firm at various intervals. A second charrette yielded finer-grain details, and a conference room naming contest encouraged everyone to flex their creative muscles.
Supporting collaboration at all scales
The office layout is anchored by a central circulation core between the breakroom and the lobby. Five new conference rooms and three smaller focus rooms provide flexible options for meetings, phone calls, and breakout activities. These spaces are clad in materials that support their use – dark navy blue felt and moody task lighting for the focus rooms, maple-slat adorned walls and ceilings in the conference rooms, and a smaller conference room clad entirely in wood.
Scattered around the perimeter of the open office are areas for sitting or quick one-on-one collaborations, which also provide views of Mt. Rainier, Lake Union, Fremont, and the stormwater-scrubbing bioswales right outside the windows.
A pleasing palette
The design of the space was led by Bernadette Kelly, the firm’s Interior Design Principal and Cody Lodi, Design Principal. For the open office area, they selected white, wood, blues and charcoals as the primary palette, with pops of turquoise. The water theme — inspired by the building, Watershed — permeates the space. Desks adjust from sitting to standing with the push of a button, and thoughtful details such as integrated cord management and computer tower clamps will allow employees to work in a clutter-free space. LED task lights have occupancy sensors and are red-list compliant.
Throughout the office, the name of the game is modern PNW minimalism, with a celebration of natural materials and neutral tones. Concrete columns are left unfinished and exposed. Wood has been added for warmth. Cabinetry is made of plywood, and the edges are intentionally visible as an expression of assembly and craft.
Many reclaimed materials, all from Weber Thompson’s previous office at the Terry Thomas building, are found throughout the space. Salvaged items include perforated plywood ceiling panels, ceiling fans, and a blackened steel panel in the lobby. Additionally, conference room furniture was created locally by Watson furniture and supports flexibility: Tables in some rooms can be reconfigured for large meetings or class-room style seating.
A nod to a previous era
One of Weber Thompson’s favorite reclaimed elements in the new space is a massive 14’-tall section of flooring salvaged from the firm’s lobby at The Terry Thomas. The floorboards show the patina of many years serving as Pearl Jam’s practice studio in South Lake Union. The piece has been reassembled and encased in a steel frame, and carefully secured to the second-floor entrance off of Troll Avenue. The floor is a reminder of the sounds that defined Seattle as Weber Thompson was coming of age itself.
A focus on wellness
Designed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the team was uber-attentive to the need to support health and wellness of employees. In addition to meeting red-list free specifications, materials and fixtures throughout the office were selected with the notion of suppressing virus transmission and minimizing contact. For example, the team specified non-porous and easy-to-clean finishes in the break room and bar. These considerations will be particularly useful in the next few years, but will continue to support employee wellness for the lifespan of the office.
With strict guidelines about materials and energy usage, Watershed’s pursuit of The Living Building Challenge guided nearly every decision made for the project, from floor to ceiling. All materials used on the project meet strict red-list free guidelines. Many reclaimed materials and items were repurposed from the firm’s previous office.
Biophilia drove the design as much as possible, as did human health and comfort. Operable windows will provide a connection to the outdoors and natural ventilation, spaces are equipped with zone-specific thermal controls, and the firm’s energy use will be displayed on a real-time dashboard in the lobby. The toilets use reclaimed rainwater for flushing, and a central stair and direct access to the sidewalk on L2 will minimize the need for elevator trips. Learn more about Watershed’s many sustainability features.
With strict guidelines about materials and energy usage, the Living Building Challenge guided nearly every decision made for the project, from floor to ceiling. All materials used on the project meet strict red-list free guidelines. Many reclaimed materials and items were repurposed from the firm’s previous office.