Relocating from the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, the Cushing Terrrell Seattle team has joined other businesses committed to reoccupying and revitalizing Seattle’s downtown. Needing to accommodate a growing staff and adapt to a shift in workplace expectations, the multidisciplinary design team recently moved into the seventh floor of the historic Agen Warehouse building—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—at 1201 Western Avenue. Constructed in 1910, the former industrial warehouse facility sits amidst the growing and redeveloping Seattle Waterfront. Cushing Terrell’s new 9,000-square-foot penthouse workspace, added as part of a 1980s renovation, boasts uninterrupted views of the downtown waterfront and Olympic mountains. The new office space draws inspiration from the moody hues and varied textures of the Puget Sound and Pacific Northwest coastline.
The goal of the project was to create an efficient flow of people and activities throughout the office while ensuring collaborative, equitable, and inspiring touch-down areas for the diverse roles and responsibilities of the team members who would be using the space. Another priority of the design was reuse. From the adaptive reuse of the century-old building to conference tables and workspace caddies carried over from the previous office, the team set out to modernize their workplace consciously and thoughtfully.
The existing floor plate was largely preserved but rethought in terms of necessary uses with a space plan that emphasized flow and transitions. Buzzy zones of activity were intentionally linked together or adjacent to one another, removed from quieter, focused workspaces. Entering from the elevator bay, guests are greeted with a warm, neutral sign and welcomed into the neighboring, activated spaces, including a living room, private 1,200-square-foot rooftop deck, a dining room and open kitchen space.
Where once were small, private offices, an open-air kitchen and dining room have been introduced. As a part of the renovation, the separating walls were removed to expose the floor-to-ceiling windows, revealing the office’s greatest asset: stunning views of the surrounding geographic features.
“This area was previously a series of closed office spaces, and now it’s the heart of our office,” says Jessica Earp, project design lead. “The collaborative, communal area allows the team to come together at any time but with the option to go their separate ways to work heads down.”
Adjacent to the open format breakroom is the design lab, situated behind large, sliding glass doors. An extension of the community gathering space, the design lab encourages creative problem-solving with the benefit of a full library of materials and resources.
From here, the office transitions to workstations arranged in an open office format, which progresses gradually into quieter spaces including phone, huddle and conference rooms.
“It’s wonderful to have these activated spaces grouped together and more quiet spaces where people can retreat into, separate from the big communal space,” notes Earp.
In addition to repurposing the space itself, a heavy emphasis was placed on the responsible reuse and/or disposal of assets from the firm’s previous workspace. An existing series of workstation storage units were retained and repainted to match the new sit-stand desks, and a large conference table was repurposed to anchor one of the new space’s largest meeting rooms. Other items were redistributed throughout the community by resale or donation, and material samples were returned to local manufacturer reps to divert as much of the furniture, materials and supplies from the landfill as possible.
The theme of reuse went beyond existing assets, however, and filtered into key new furniture items and fixtures. Among those were the dining table, which was saved from a decommissioned showroom closed during the pandemic; task chairs, made in part with netting pulled from reclaimed ocean plastic; and a woven area rug featured in the dining room that is Living Product Challenge-certified and made from 100 percent recycled plastic water bottles.
The entire design process was carried out amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in unique challenges and fine-tuning. Knowing firsthand the pandemic had changed and would continue to change the way offices are used, special consideration was given to this new space to ensure it served as an asset for the new way the team would work.
“The conclusion of any project is always exciting and celebratory, but to finish one that we now get to live and work within is particularly special,” Earp notes. “To see this office come to life despite all the challenges and constraints is truly an honor.”
As opposed to a sea of open offices dotted with closed office spaces, the emphasis within Cushing Terrell Seattle is on collaboration and coming together, the shared resources stored in the design lab and the agency of having a variety of spaces to accommodate a range of workday needs.
PHOTOS: Mark Woods Photography
Architecture/Interiors: Cushing Terrell
General Contractor: Abbott Construction
Interior Glazing: Carvart Glass
Plastic Laminate: Abet Laminati
Acoustical Felt: Felt Right
Wood Slats: 9Wood