Center for Urban Waters

client: tacoma environmental services (tes) properties

size: 1.2 acres

location: tacoma, washington

duration: 2007–2010

construction cost: $18,279,180

certifications: leed platinum

awards: 2012 green roof and wall award of excellence, green roofs for healthy cities; 2012 djc project of the month, aia, seattle chapter; 2011 award of excellence finalist, uli; 2010 public project of the year, wa state chapter of naiop; 2008 civic design award, aia, wa council; 2008 aia what makes it green award, aia, seattle chapter

Successful site design is sustainable, and truly sustainable, innovative solutions are dependent on multiple, interconnected subsystems and durable elements which meet many needs. This new research facility exemplifies this approach on all levels, and contributes a complexity and richness that benefits the environment and users along this redeveloping industrial waterway.

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Swift Company took the client’s mandate and vision to heart with the development of an integrated site design that expresses the function of the facility through the use of stormwater and reclaimed water in the landscape. Vehicular and pedestrian hardscape are pervious, and infiltration of stormwater is maximized through bioswales and a successful green roof. Water for toilet flushing and site irrigation is stored in two 41,000 gallon tanks which hold roof runoff and reverse osmosis overage waters from the building’s labs. The public has access to a waterfront promenade with a wild, but ordered landscape of snags, native and drought-tolerant plants, and groupings of benches made from recycled stone curbs and wood. Ospreys, which now hunt from the snag perches of this industrial waterfront, animate the landscape, and communicate ecological and cultural value.

The innovative project shifts the historic perception of what should be expected from industrial development, and illustrates that ecological function is an integral, necessary, and beautiful part of urban life.

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