By Chad Blenz
One of Seattle’s most promising economic sectors, Pioneer Square has welcomed a new company to the neighborhood. Weyerhaeuser’s new headquarters now overlooks Occidental Park from its new location on Occidental Avenue. Weyerhaeuser is one of the region’s oldest and most valuable companies, and their relocation is already proving to be a boost for this downtown neighborhood that has been trending amongst major employers. Nicknamed the “tree fort” and comprising eight stories, the new headquarters is now the tallest office building within this historic neighborhood.
Previously located at their distinguished suburban campus in Federal Way, Washington, since 1971, the company’s shift to Seattle is a sign of a changing culture at Weyerhaeuser. The park-like campus in Federal Way had become too sprawling for the firm over the years, and they were drawn to all the perks associated with relocating to a more connected and intimate setting downtown. The company rightly forecasted that the move would be positive for recruiting and retaining top talent in Seattle’s thriving, competitive market.
Pioneer Square has experienced rapid proliferation and a subsequent shift in its character that has reshaped the neighborhood into an ideal location for forward-looking companies, retailers, galleries and restaurants. Additionally, the vibrant neighborhood offers convenient and accessible public transportation, with every type of transit available, including light rail, regional rail, ferry, metro and streetcar. Such amenities, coupled with the historically-chic essence of Weyerhaeuser’s new headquarters, serve as strong attractions for company recruitment as they aim to draw in the next wave of young employees, many of whom rely on mass transit and appreciate the social aspect of a downtown locale.
Weyerhaeuser’s vision has transformed an old parking lot in Pioneer Square into 158,000 square feet of new Class A office space, filling a void that once surrounded Occidental Park. Urban Divisions, based in Seattle, and Mithun, a Seattle firm, developed the building, which currently houses 700 employees. Much of the timber and reclaimed wood showcased throughout the building comes from Weyerhaeuser’s own mills and forests. The reclaimed-wood stair treads, benches, and Douglas fir ceiling boards are all from their facilities in Longview, Washington. Additionally, the reception desk in the lobby and various pieces of furniture throughout the building come from J-Grade logs harvested near Skykomish, Washington. The 35-foot slab that makes the special table in the 8th floor dining room comes from a large tree in the company’s Chelan Tree Farm near Gold Bar, Washington.
The building is LEED certified and extremely energy and water efficient with green globes, solar panels, energy-efficient elevators, a green roof, and operable windows to allow for fresh air, low VOC, and durable materials throughout. However, energy consciousness does not subtract from design innovation. The building offers 12-foot tall ceilings, expansive windows, and a beautiful exterior deck atop the seventh floor.
This green roof provides striking views from Elliot Bay and the Great Wheel to the business district and the stadiums. The deck also features a walk-around path circling the building, barbeque, fire pit, ping-pong table and an assortment of outdoor furniture for all employees. Other features include showers, locker rooms, bike stalls, a kitchen, and a playroom for children. Each floor incorporates sleek alternative work areas, ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and meeting rooms with smart tablets. Lastly, you will find pieces of art scattered throughout the space, including 10 new additions to their long-term collection—one of which is a six-story tree mural that runs the length of the stairwell.
Weyerhaeuser’s relocation to their new urban “tree fort” has certainly marked a new chapter in the company’s 117-year history after being nestled in the suburbs for decades. Its new location in Pioneer Square offers the innovative features and access to possibilities needed to succeed and thrive in today’s changing business market. The company has been able to combine company tradition with progressive change, transforming and solidifying their mission for the future. Weyerhaeuser has proven the importance of location and risk-taking in today’s dynamic business world.
Chad Blenz is an associate of Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company with offices in Seattle, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Contact Chad at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.