By Brittan Jenkins

Architects at Weber Thompson in conjunction with developers Mark Grey, principal of Stephen C. Grey & Associates, Mike Hess and Joanna Hess Callahan, teamed up to bring an environmentally conscious office building to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood through a Seattle pilot program. Situated along N 34th St., the site is bound by Troll Avenue N to the west and is right off the Aurora Bridge.

The seven-story office building will be part of the Seattle Living Building Pilot Program, which is a green building certification for the most sustainable buildings and landscapes. To meet the requirements of the program, applicants must achieve at least three of seven categories or petals including place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity and beauty, according to Applicants have to achieve energy, water or materials in addition to any of the seven petals. In exchange, applicants can request additional departures for height and floor area. A maximum of 20 projects will be approved for the pilot program.

We really think of this as like when you’re going camping, always leaving the site cleaner than when you found it

To meet the water requirements laid out by the pilot program, the project will incorporate bio-swale and bio-retention planters, filter and treat building storm water and reuse rainwater for building water needs. They’ll also be reducing their energy usage by providing the most efficient use of daylight into the office space and encourage stair use over elevators. The team is also hoping to achieve the materials requirements as well.

While all three components are integrated throughout the building, Grey said water is their priority. “With this building, we’ve really focused on water,” he said. “We’re taking state water off the Aurora Bridge, cleaning the water and putting it back into the lake clean.”

Cody Lodi, the design architect and senior associate with Weber Thompson, who presented the team’s plans to the Seattle Design Review Board at a February 27th meeting in Wallingford, said they are excited to be part of this project and pilot program.

“We really think of this as like when you’re going camping, always leaving the site cleaner than when you found it,” Lodi said. “We are reducing our water usage by 75 percent, and that’s very significant, and we are reusing 50 percent of rainwater that falls on the site,” he added. The way they plan to reuse some of that water is by taking water off of the shed roof and taking it down through steel channels.

In addition to cleaning and reusing water, Lodi said they are working to make sure their materials will meet the pilot program’s requirements as well. “We are vetting all materials to be nontoxic and as locally sourced as possible,” Lodi said. “In order to meet the material requirements, it really forced us to look at the materials that were natural,” he added.

“The other element is our energy usage. We’re reducing usage by 25 percent to meet requirements of the program,” Lodi said.

The building will feature energy-efficient tinting glass along N. 34th Street and parts of Troll Avenue. The glass will automatically dim throughout the day, as the sun gets brighter or dimmer. In the winter and at night, it is expected the glass will be almost completely see through, exposing the structure of the building inside. In the summer and on bright days, the building will look almost black where the glass is.

Another key component of the project includes art installments around the building, some highlighting the work the team is doing to meet the pilot program requirements. Five informational podiums will be placed along the exterior of the building educating the public on the ways the project will benefit the community. The office building will also incorporate a laser cut steel gate, depicting the history of Fremont with a map of the area and a poetic wall art with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “When the well runs dry, we learn the worth of water.”

Included in the plans for the office building are seven levels of above-grade space including bike storage with about 87 stalls, six showers, parking for 14 cars on the third level of the building, which is accessed from the alley, and about 5,000 square feet of retail space along N. 34th Street and Troll Avenue.

In addition to serving as the building architects for the office space, Rachael Meyer, also with Weber Thompson, is serving as the landscape architect for the project. The project will also pursue Salmon Safe Certification, similar to the project across the street at 744 N 34th St. currently under construction.

Design Review Board members unanimously approved the project at the meeting and it will now move on to the master use permit phase.