By Meghan Hall
Bellevue, Wash.-based FREIHEIT Architecture and Dibble Engineers Inc. (DEI) have teamed up on numerous projects throughout the Puget Sound, establishing a valued working relationship between the two firms. So, when DEI first began considering redeveloping its former office several years ago, Rob Dibble, principal and owner of DEI reached out to FREIHEIT to help design a new office for the growing firm in Kirkland, Wash. Together, the Dibble and FREIHEIT worked to produce a modern building that was well-supported by the community and Kirkland Design Review Board, one that would contribute to the evolving character of Market Street for years to come.
“FREIHEIT Architecture has a long history of working with Dibble Engineers on a variety of project types,” explained Chris Amonson, architect at FREIHEIT. “We often work closely to achieve our client’s vision and when the time came for Robb Dibble, Principal and Owner of Dibble Engineers, to redevelop their site in the city of Kirkland, he graciously selected FREIHEIT Architecture to assist him with his project.”
Dibble’s office, located at 1029 Market St., is on a main commercial corridor that runs through all of Kirkland, connecting the city with other nearby towns. DEI originally purchased the property in 2008, with the intent to grow into the space, and chose to maintain its owner-operator position on Market St. in Kirkland as opposed to moving to other Eastside cities such as Bellevue as it grew.
“From the start, Robb had envisioned a high quality, enduring building that would contribute to City of Kirkland and enhance the surrounding neighborhood for generations to come as well as create as much rentable floor area as possible within the allowances of the site,” said Amonson. “The site is ideally located just north of downtown Kirkland, just minutes away from shops and dining, and within the Market Street Zone.”
DEI notes in its conceptual design documents that the previous building was significantly under-utilized for the scope of such a development on a main corridor site. With the new Class A office, DEI would strive to accommodate its own expansion along with the Kirkland community’s. DEI’s office is also located close to the City of Kirkland’s Building Department, a partnership DEI hoped to continue to foster in the future.
“DEI’s hope and intent is to remain a professional resource and asset to the community and the neighborhood by remaining in our current location and by investing a substantial amount of capital into the construction of a new, Class A office building,” DEI stated in its initial design documents submitted in 2016. “We believe that Kirkland is served well by our business of professional services that we offer, and as a profile building to the Corridor of what we believe the neighborhood would like to see in the community.”
DEI proposed a two-story, 11,995 square foot building with one level of below grade parking. The building has five facades not only to create visual interest, but to maximize the amount of usable office space on the project site. The orientation of the lot, noted Amonson, posed a challenge for both DEI and FREIHEIT, who sought to make the most of every square foot.
“While the shape limited the efficiency, FREIHEIT Architecture was able to maximize the rentable floor area by optimizing the below grade parking and first floor parking and office areas,” said Amonson.
The body of the building is divided horizontally in an effort to create additional architectural interest. The main building’s entrance is off of Market St. and was designed to create an active presence on the corridor, while a two-story lobby with clear glazing furthers this end and also encourages the office’s presence on the street. Precast concrete was used to clad most of the building; the upper façade was lighter in tone, while the lower façade was darker to anchor the building. Corten Steel and aluminum composite panel were used to frame the main entry and wood elements were used as an accent on the market street frontage.
“The main entry faces Market Street with a two-story lobby and grand stair using quality, durable materials to warm and accent the open paved area adjacent to the sidewalk,” explained Amonson. “With his initial idea of endurance and quality, Robb worked with the design team at FREIHEIT to select a pallet of durable and appealing materials to create a lively space that was built to last.”
The project was completed in the Fall of 2018, and DEI currently shares the new space with two other tenants. The final cost of the project was around $400 per square foot. Overall, DEI has said the project has been well-received by both its employees and the community, and it plans on maintaining its presence in Kirkland for years to come.
“Chris Amonson and his team at FREIHEIT Architecture completed an outstanding architectural design for our new engineering office building in the heart of Kirkland,” said Dibble in a statement. “The site planning efforts maximized every square foot of the site, and the renderings were terrific. The design was well received by the Design Review Board and we are loving our beautiful new office.”