Location:  Pioneer Square - Seattle, Washington
Type:  Commercial

Artefact, a Seattle-based high tech/industrial design firm, approached the firm to design their headquarters in a newly renovated building in the historic Pioneer Square district. The 26,000 sf office and workspace is composed of a mostly-open floor plan with discreet conference and project rooms, a commons/café & bar, executive suite and small library. The overall design aesthetic is clean and minimal in keeping with Artefact's own design style and values. A new steel and reclaimed wood stair joins two levels (5th and 6th floors) with the intent of keeping the space as open as possible, while connecting everyone in the core of the space and taking full advantage of Elliott Bay views.

The project is an adaptive re-use of a circa 1916 warehouse/toy factory that had been used as artists’ spaces before tunneling began to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct which required a seismic upgrade of the building. The intent of the design was to honor the original character of the building, while inserting fresh, modern forms and sleek finishes (glass conference room walls, white enamel reception desk, glossy white stair) that contrast with the rawness of the existing building’s fabric, which consists of heavy timber, masonry block, fir car decking and board-formed concrete.

The Artefact team works both collaboratively and individually, and requires a diversity of spaces that allows them to adapt to a variety of work modes. Work spaces range from open loft-like office seating areas to fully secured, acoustically isolated conference rooms, to break-out rooms enclosed on three sides but open to the office where colleagues can see (and, often, contribute to) what’s going on around them. A challenge was ensuring that the staff continued to feel connected even when occupying two separate levels. This was solved by cutting a large, 250-square-foot hole in the 6th floor and inserting a sinuous, glossy white stair into the heart of the program to connect the two floors, which also includes the café/bar. The benefit of connectedness outweighed the loss of floor space.

Photography:  Lara Swimmer