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Federal Center South Building 1202

Liz
17 Feb 2014

Federal Center South Building 1202 is the redevelopment/modernisation of a portion of an existing warehouse (Building 1202) located at Federal Center South in Seattle, Washington. With aggressive mandates for reuse and energy-performance, Building 1202 transforms a 4.6 acre brownfield site into a highly flexible and sustainable 209,000 sq. ft regional headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Northwest District.

The request for a flexible workplace environment that would meet the needs of the U.S. Army Corps today and well into the future drove the design solution. The building's form reflects the natural oxbows in the Duwamish Waterway, provides measurable energy-performance benefits, and is both functional and flexible to accommodate the USACE's nearly constantly changing team-based work.

Biophilia-the idea that a physical, psychological, and social connection with nature leads to happier and more productive employees-was instrumental in the workplace design strategy. The design leverages the building form and site to provide views to the outdoors from virtually any place within the building, thereby creating a workplace where employees are excited and proud to come to work.

The indoor campus environment enhances the concept of creating a collective community and identity by centralising all shared resources within the "commons" - the social heart of the building. Open-plan workstations surround the commons, encouraging impromptu interaction and engagement. A workstation cubicle height of 50 inches provides virtually everyone with a view to the outside.

The commons experiences a variety of changing light experiences as the sun moves across the sky. The building's narrow, 60 foot floor plate optimizes daylight penetration, reducing the need for artificial lighting and associated energy costs. Daylight enters the buildings from all sides, as well as the overhead skylight. A varying degree of frit across the glass roof responds to solar exposure.

Nearly 200,000 board feet of structural timber and 100,000 board feet of roof decking (92%) from a decommissioned warehouse on the site were reclaimed to form the commons foundation, structural system, and interior cladding. Timber bridges and stairs throughout the atrium connect people across the building, and are strategically located adjacent to informal seating and touchdown work surfaces that encourage impromptu collaboration. The shared communal spaces in the commons have become an important connective tissue between departments that were previously isolated.

To most residents of the Pacific Northwest, rivers and waterways are simply part of the fabric of the region - so omnipresent that their value and contributions to the region's economic framework are often overlooked. For the USACE, however, water is the lifeblood of its existence. Reflected throughout the new district headquarters, environmental graphics contribute to wayfinding while underscoring the USACE's focus as an agency. The graphic representations of the USACE's mission as an agency enhance gathering spaces and encourage people to engage with the natural environment just outside the windows.

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