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665,000 Square Foot 2+U Building in Downtown Seattle Brings Unique Design to the Urban Core

Seattle, Skanska USA, Pickard Chilton, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Swift Company, Graham Baba Architects, 2+U, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Rendering courtesy of Skanska USA

By Jack Stubbs

With all of the construction activity occurring in downtown Seattle, it’s no surprise that another is on the way: 2+U, a 38-story office tower currently under construction at 2nd and University St. in downtown Seattle, will bring a unique design template to Seattle’s downtown urban core. In the meantime, the office tower is also one of the first projects in the world to utilize the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality system for potential tenants to experience a guided holographic lens tour that offers a first-person perspective of the building.

Located at 1201 Second Ave., the in-the-works office tower will include 665,000 square feet of office space, 18,000 square feet of street-level, retail and footplates that measure between 18,000 and 30,000 square feet. Some of the building amenities include tenant event spaces and view decks, bike storage and service stations, a fitness and yoga studio, valet services and electric vehicle parking stations, and high-touch concierge-style property management.

Skanska USA is the developer and the general contractor for 2+U. The project team also includes Pickard Chilton (design architect), Kendall/Heaton Associates (architect of record), Swift Company (landscape architect), Graham Baba Architects (architect and experience design), Magnusson Klemencic Associates (structural engineer), Hum Creative (brand design), and Bianco Artists (photography and video styling).

Seattle, Skanska USA, Pickard Chilton, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Swift Company, Graham Baba Architects, 2+U, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Rendering courtesy of Skanska USA

Set for completion and tenant move-in in the middle of 2019, the project has been a long time coming. Building permits for the development were granted in 2016 and initial excavation began in 2017, while various tenant improvements will be added to the building throughout 2018.

The office space will be leased by John Hansen of CBRE and Jesse Ottele of Newmark Knight Frank, while the retail space will be leased by Anne Marie Koehler and Erika Koehler with JLL’s Seattle office.

The nearly 40-story undertaking will be lifted to 85 feet, revealing a 24,000 square foot outdoor urban village at the foot of the structure that will include arts and entertainment spaces, gathering spaces and restaurant and retail opportunities that will be open to the public and accessible throughout the year. According  to Christian Gunter, vice president of development at Skanska USA, the unique design move of the building will allow it to become more ingratiated with the surrounding streetscape and neighborhood. “The design not only improves views for building occupants, but [also] creates a vibrant pedestrian environment for the neighborhood and urban village surrounded by a half-acre of programmed public open space,” he said. Additionally, the building will also hope to plug into Seattle’s arts and culture community. “2+U will also include an arts and culture space, free to the community for the life of the building for emerging artists, creatives and cultural organizations,” Gunter added.

Seattle, Skanska USA, Pickard Chilton, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Swift Company, Graham Baba Architects, 2+U, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Rendering courtesy of Skanska USA

Some of the unique design features of the building include a continuous glass facade that wraps around the building and increases natural daylight into the interior environment and work areas, and dual elevator cores that allow for flexible tenant entries into the tower. Programmatically, there are a variety of work spaces for potential tenants to choose from, with a clear separation between quiet work focus areas and collaborative work spaces. The interior of the space will be comprised of a variety of individual work stations, private offices, 2-person offices, informal conference rooms and training/auditorium rooms.

Externally, the development will occupy a prominent location within the downtown core. The building is adjacent to Benaroya Hall and Seattle Art Museum and just four blocks from the Elliott Bay Waterfront and the Waterfront Park. Additionally, the building is just blocks from Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market and has a transit score of 100, located in the heart of the CBD. According to Murphy McCullough, vice president and regional manager with Skanska, the location of the development will add further to its appeal for those looking to occupy it.

Seattle, Skanska USA, Pickard Chilton, Kendall/Heaton Associates, Swift Company, Graham Baba Architects, 2+U, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Rendering courtesy of Skanska USA

“2+U is situated at the heart of Seattle and [offers] unmatched connection for building tenants and their employees…it is [the building’s] unique location that will allow future tenants to truly attract and retain the best talent,” he said.

And while Skanska’s leasing team has not yet identified potential tenants for the building—the company is not speaking with any full-building tenants—McCullough hopes that growth in Seattle will help put 2+U on interested tenants’ radars. “Historic economic growth and expansion by Seattle’s diverse tenant base has created an incredibly tight office market,” he said. “[The building is] designed to appeal to a wide variety of tenants, [and] we are encouraged by the strong, diverse interest in the building from technology to finance, law and professional service companies.”

In the meantime—until the building is ready for tenant moves—prospective tenants will have to make do with gauging the features of the building through augmented reality. Skanska has been using Microsoft’s HoloLens experience, a self-contained, holographic headset that enables users to engage in first-person with the virtual world around them. In partnership with digital production agency Studio 216 and Microsoft, the HoloLens technology is being utilized in 2+U’s leasing center. “The HoloLens experience is a helpful tool for our leasing team to offer prospective tenants a first-person perspective of the future building’s interior and exterior,” McCullough said.