On the way to Kirkland at the intersection of Lakeview Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard, passersby will notice a unique office building nestled into a triangular-shaped site. The building is reinforced by steel and concrete, but upon closer inspection, visitors will notice the architectural skeleton that sets the Lakeview Office Building apart from its peers as the first large-scale mass timber office development east of the greater Seattle area.
“It’s really considered the gateway to the city of Kirkland,” said Pamela Trevithick, partner at Seattle-based architecture firm LMN Architects and project manager of the Lakeview Office Building project. “We had an opportunity to do something really unique.”
Lakeview Office Building, located at 5501 Lakeview, is a 46,000 square foot development with two floors of office space and two floors of below grade parking. The project also notably features an extensive living roof, which may not easily be seen from the naked eye at ground level. LMN Architects worked closely with the client, Cascade Management, and the rest of the project team, which included architecture firm HEWITT as landscape architect and contractor Sierra Construction, to create a space that not only pays tribute to the Pacific Northwest in its design and sustainability, but is also thoughtful to the surrounding community.
“Part of the principles obviously is what makes sense here, and also how to be sustainable and how to be a good neighbor,” said John Chau, partner at LMN Architects. “It’s doing the right thing.”
Entering the site, tenants are greeted by a shade garden and fern gully which feature seasonal plants. A concrete wall and metal wall system protects the entry sequence from traffic noise, and a custom-designed granite water fountain greets tenants as they approach the entrance to the building.
The building itself has a unique shape, with two straight facades connected by a gently curving edge that features an all-glass curtain wall exterior with operable windows. The team wanted to focus on the views that tenants would see as they looked out toward Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains beyond.
“We want[ed] to make sure that we capitalize[d] on the views facing west, and that we be respectful of the east side and the north side in terms of the urban settings of the neighbors next door,” Chau said.
As usual, the project did not come without its challenges, though they were neither related to budget nor timeline. Using mass timber in design can be complicated, and while the team was designing, they had to keep in mind the future tenants and how the interior design would work around the strategically positioned Douglas Fir Glulam beams.
“From a planning standpoint, you have to go through and make sure it works for the layout of future desks and things like that,” Chau said.
The team also had to be cautious about utilities and how they could best be implemented with the SPF Dowel Laminated Timber (DLT) ceilings.
“Other challenges were being really thoughtful around utilities, conduit, lighting and setting it up in a logical way so that when the future tenant came in, it wouldn’t go amok with putting all that stuff in there,” Trevithick said. “There’s real focus on intentionality around laying out pipes and HVAC and setting it up for a future tenant.”
While the detailing didn’t need to be complicated, the team had to be sure the wood was appropriately protected during construction, and as such there was an added sensitivity to the design.
“The craft of detailing a wood structure like this is really important, and it obviously shows given its simplicity and quality,” Trevithick said.
Another added challenge was the implementation of the building’s living roof. Due to code, a rooftop garden deck open to people wasn’t initially allowed. LMN Architects worked closely with Cascade Management and the city of Kirkland to amend the code to allow for a living roof that would be available for tenants. Otherwise, the living roof would have been installed without the option for people to take advantage of the amenity. This ultimately could have cost the client more than the rent made it worth in value. The client took a chance, however, and the team moved forward with installing the steel structure and shaft for the elevator, hoping that it would work out in the end. The leap of faith paid off.
“We worked closely with the client and the city of Kirkland to amend the code to allow this to happen,” Trevithick said. “There was no guarantee that it was going to work out, but thankfully it did. This project really sets the precedent for other developments in the city of Kirkland.”
The living roof features a variety of vegetation, as well as solar panels, cascading bioretention planters and an indoor-to-outdoor amenity space for tenants to gather. While the roof may not be visible from ground level, surrounding neighbors from uphill can look down at the sloping site and see the living ecosystem the team has created.
“More importantly, being a living roof, the expectation is that it has seasonal aspects to it,” Chau said. “It doesn’t stay green year round. It creates such a greater value for the tenants that move here…It’s a legacy project, and [the client] would rather do the right thing. It’s not only for the tenants. It’s just being a good neighbor. People look down on this roof from uphill and they would appreciate seeing this. On a personal level, you design not just for humans, but for insects and birds and things like that.”
The site itself houses more than 10,000 individual plants, and Trevithick commended HEWITT for their landscaping work.
“In this particular project, because of its visibility, and the goals by the client, we worked with HEWITT – great designers – and that really ties in and helps celebrate the site and the project,” Trevithick said. “It’s really successful in that aspect.”
LMN Architects added that the efforts made by HEWITT, Sierra Construction, structural and civil engineers, lighting designers and more contributed to the success of the project.
“This project by far has been the most streamlined in terms of design process, decision-making, on budget, schedule was not really an issue,” Trevithick said. “The only real challenge we had was the rooftop code variance, and it all worked out. Really a pleasure to be part of this project.”
The team especially commended Cascade Management for the partnership they had during design and construction, as well as their passion and drive to meet the project goals.
“Great architecture is made by great clients,” Chau said. “We have such a great client on this one. It just makes it so much more fun.”
The team hopes Lakeview Office Building will pave the way for more contractors to create thoughtful, sustainable mass timber designed buildings in the greater Seattle area.
“More people should do mass timber buildings in general,” Chau said. “It’s just a wonderful product and it’s good for the environment. If we keep building, [we] might as well use the least harmful material out there, as well.”
Trevithick noted that not only is mass timber design beneficial for the environment, but also for the health of tenants, as well.
“It also promotes the health and wellbeing of guests and the connection to outdoors, the daylight, the operable windows,” Trevithick said. “The wood sort of makes anyone want to thrive and be productive in a space like this.”