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Weber Thompson Announces Move to Watershed, a Weber Thompson-designed Living Building Pilot Project in Seattle’s Fremont Neighborhood

Seattle, Weber Thompson, Fremont, Watershed

July 10th, 2020: After twelve years in the LEED Gold, award-winning Terry Thomas building, the interdisciplinary design firm Weber Thompson announces that it will move to Watershed, the new Living Building Pilot Project of the firm’s design, at the end of the year.

Watershed is a 72,000 GSF Class A+ office structure located at Troll Avenue N and N 34th Street in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It is pursuing the 2014 version of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP) which requires aggressive energy and water usage reductions as well as other sustainably-forward strategies. 

Watershed is pursuing the LBPP’s Materials, Place, and Beauty petals from the International Living Future Institute’s Living building Challenge. The building uses healthier materials that are locally sourced, red-list compliant and have an ILFI Declare Label listing product ingredients. 

Watershed includes approximately 61,000 SF of commercial office contained within 7-stories, and approximately 5,000 SF of retail at grade. Weber Thompson’s offices will be located on level two of the building. 

While The Terry Thomas, an award-winning, sustainable, naturally ventilated commercial building, has been integral to Weber Thompson’s story about sustainability for the past decade, the firm is excited to continue the tradition of working in a ‘learning laboratory.’

“Watershed has given us an opportunity to push the boundaries of high-performance design in ways we had never imagined,” says Managing Partner Kristen Scott. “Although the strategies employed at Watershed are different than those in The Terry Thomas, they are very much a continuation of what we learned from designing and working in it for over a decade. We kept the very best parts, like great daylighting and a courtyard entry, overlaid with new technologies to make it even better. This move allows us to showcase the intersection of sustainable design and technology to our clients and ideally inspire them to do the same.” 

Weber Thompson’s commercial office and interior design studios are currently designing the firm’s tenant improvement at Watershed. A series of internal charrettes helped the firm gather input from employees about the new space, and prioritize their needs. “This is one of those rare opportunities to be our own best client. We implemented our collaborative design approach internally, and it yielded great results.” states Scott.

The firm has a general contractor in place, Schuchart, and plans to start construction on the build out of the new space in August. Move in will likely take place at the end of 2020. Until then, the firm will continue to work out of their location at The Terry Thomas building in South Lake Union, although many employees continue to work remotely as a result of COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Seattle, Weber Thompson, Fremont, Watershed

“We transitioned to a remote work environment fairly seamlessly, but many of our employees are eager to get back to the office—with appropriate safety measures in place.” says Scott. “Remote work has been surprisingly productive, but what we all miss are the day-to-day interactions and natural opportunities for collaboration that happen in an office environment. Our space at Watershed will be designed to support both spontaneous and structured design processes, and the incubation of great ideas.”

A few of Watershed’s familiar features include castellated beams and natural daylighting, though the building boasts many elements that The Terry Thomas does not: fully-vetted red-list free materials inside and out, educational signage, environmental art, and a bicycle locker room for 100 bikes, plus showers. An electrochromic glass façade self-tints on sunny days, reducing heat gain and glare, and contributing to a 25% reduction in energy use over a code baseline building.

Additionally, the building is projected to reduce water use by 75% over a baseline building. Extensive water capture on site is visible from the exterior of the building via a dramatic cantilevered roof, cascading vertical gutter system and oversized sculptural steel scupper which flows into a water capture cistern. The building captures 200,000 gallons of water annually for use on-site for toilet flushing and irrigation. 

Along Troll Avenue N, extensive bioswales naturally clean over 300,000 gallons annually of toxic runoff from the Aurora Bridge while integrating a series of outdoor terraces. The project is also Salmon Safe certified. 

About Weber Thompson 

Seattle-based Weber Thompson is a full service, West coast design firm specializing in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and community/urban design. This award winning company has a staff of 70 design and construction professionals, housed in the celebrated Terry Thomas, a LEED NC Gold certified office building in South Lake Union. At the end of 2020, the firm will relocate to Watershed, in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Since 1988, Weber Thompson has developed a diverse practice with projects that include high-rises, high-density urban infill, residential, commercial office, hospitality, and affordable housing projects. Weber Thompson seeks effective results through a thoughtful and collaborative design process.

About Watershed

Watershed is a high-performance office building that helps Seattle move toward a fossil-free future.  It is pursuing the Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP). The project has an emphasis on rainwater: It collects and reuses over 200,000 gallons of water on site annually, and diverts and cleans over 300,000 gallons of runoff before entering Lake Union through green stormwater infrastructure on site. Watershed is a partnership between CoU, LLC and Spear Street Capital. Weber Thompson provided architecture and landscape architecture services. JLL handled all office leasing. Additional team members include: General Contractor: Turner Construction; Civil Engineer: KPFF; Structural Engineer: DCI Engineers; M/E/P Engineer: WSP; Building Envelope: Allana Buick & Bers, Inc.; Transportation Engineer: Heffron Transportation; Specifications: Applied Building Information, LLC; Sustainability/LBC Consulting: Skanska. 

About The Terry Thomas

Weber Thompson designed The Terry Thomas building. When it was completed in 2008, The Terry Thomas gained national attention for its innovative design and holistic approach to sustainability. The building was Seattle’s first commercial office building structure developed in decades without central air conditioning, and it consumes 56% less energy than a typical Class A office building. The firm received a national AIA Committee on the Environment award for the building in 2009, a coveted honor bestowed on only the most innovative projects across the country. 

About the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) 

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) is a hub for visionary programs. ILFI offers global strategies for lasting sustainability, partnering with local communities to create grounded and relevant solutions, including green building and infrastructure solutions on scales ranging from single room renovations to neighborhoods or whole cities. ILFI administers the Living Building Challenge, the environment’s most rigorous and ambitious performance standard, as well as the Living Product Challenge and Living Community Challenge.


About the Living Building Challenge (LBC)

The Living Building Challenge is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. Living buildings are regenerative and connect occupants to light, air, food, nature and community. They are self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site. They create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.

About the Living Building Pilot Program (LBPP) 

The City of SeattleLBPP encourages buildings to meet the Living Building Challenge, and provides height and land use departure incentives. Projects are eligible if they meet Living Building Challenge full certification, or achieve Petal Recognition, including: Achieve at least three of the seven petals (place, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty), including at least one of the following petals: energy, water, or materials; Reduce total energy usage by 25 percent compared to the Seattle Energy Code; Reduce total building water usage by 75 percent compared to baselines estimated by Seattle Public Utilities; Capture and use at least 50 percent of stormwater on site.

About Salmon-Safe 

Salmon-Safe works with West Coast farmers, developers, and other environmentally innovative landowners to reduce watershed impacts through rigorous third-party verified certification. Salmon-Safe has become one of the nation’s leading ecolabels with more than 95,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified in Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia.