Opened for the 2015-16 academic year, the University of Washington-Tacoma (UW Tacoma) completed its reconstruction and renovation of the 120-year-old McDonald-Smith Building located in the Union Station Historic District. Meeting the historic aesthetic and modern performance needs, Tumwater, Wash.-based Mission Glass installed more than 116 of Wausau Window and Wall Systems’ 4250i-XLT Invent Retro Series simulated double-hung, arched top, fixed windows.Established in 1990, UW Tacoma provides an 18:1 faculty-student ratio for a total enrollment of 4,629 first-year to graduate students. The 46-acre campus consists of 21 buildings with a total of 627,664 square feet of active space. Much of the space is nestled in converted landmark structures built in the late 1880s through the early 1930s at the western terminus for the transcontinental railroad system. Today, many of these structures are overseen by the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Commission to ensure renovations meet with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings.
The historic, 4-story McDonald-Smith building was built in 1892 for E.A. McDonald and F.C. Smith who were in the wholesale hay, grain and feed business that flourished along Pacific Avenue at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Like several of its neighbors in Tacoma’s Union Station Historic District, the Younglove Grocery Co. later acquired the building for its operations. Most recently, the building had been converted into mixed-use artists’ housing and retail spaces.
In 2006, UW Tacoma purchased the McDonald-Smith property. In 2014, it was one of two remaining landmark buildings on the campus awaiting renovation. As part of an $11 million renovation project, the university has modified the existing historic building for additional office and meeting spaces to support the continued campus growth. Connection to the adjacent, renovated Cherry Parkes building integrates the space within the Tacoma campus.
“The renovation of the McDonald-Smith Building [feels] like a natural extension of the University of Washington Tacoma campus, honoring the heritage of the Union Depot historic district by breathing new life into an aging building,” according to UW Tacoma’s Division of Finance & Administration’s Campus Planning & Real Estate unit.
Planning and design for the project started in 2014 led by Bassetti Architects, Seattle, as guided by the campus’ master plan, which was created by Seattle-based Mithun Inc. The project’s design-build reconstruction team also included M.A. Mortenson, Kirkland, Wash. Working closely with Bassetti Architects, M.A. Mortenson and Wausau, glazing contractor Mission Glass began its fieldwork in September 2015 and completed the historical window replacement in just one month.
Along with the window replacement, the building renovation includes a new mechanical and electrical system, code required structural upgrades, a new roof, structural openings to tie the building into the neighboring Cherry Parks building, and a renovation of approximately 30,000 square feet on floors 1 through 3 with faculty offices and seminar space.
Bassetti Architects’ associate principal, Jordan Kiel, AIA, LEED AP, explains: “The single-pane wood windows were original to the building and were in poor shape, especially on the west side of the building. As the building owner, UW Tacoma wanted something with more modern performance that met the historic requirements, but wasn’t an operable window. The Landmarks Commission was particularly concerned that the profiles of the new window frames match the historic windows as closely as possible.”The Landmarks Preservation Commission uses the Union Station Design Guidelines to evaluate the appropriateness of proposed alterations. To meet the guidelines and address the Commission’s concerns, several options were researched. Bassetti Architects, M.A. Mortenson and UW Tacoma’s Milt Tremblay, director of physical planning and sustainability, and Jeannie Natta, project manager of major capital projects, presented their recommendations to the commission.
Natta elaborates: “This was the first project using extruded aluminum framed windows that had been approved by the commission. In past campus renovations of similar heritage buildings, UW Tacoma used an aluminum-clad wood window. In this case, given the unique arch of the McDonald-Smith windows and that 17 different custom arched window openings exist on the building, the team was challenged to find the best product to use. We pursued approval to use the Wausau aluminum window for the advantages identified.”
These advantages included “superior craftsmanship, similar sightlines, closer brickmold profiles” and “fewer long-term warranty issues.” Natta emphasizes that the “continuous clean edge” of Wausau’s extruded aluminum windows was especially appealing in matching the historic look.