As 2021 begins and we close the book on a decade of immense change and innovation in the built environment, our employees weighed in on their most meaningful ZGF projects of the past ten years. From the rise of smart city ecodistricts, more compassionate approaches to behavioral health spaces, the “deep greening” of sustainable architecture, and ever more collaborative workplaces, followed by a mass office exodus due to – yes, we must include it – the COVID-19 crisis, our work from 2010-2020 speaks to and evolves these ideas while pushing our design ethos forward into a new decade and beyond.
A decade after its completion, the Jaqua center for student athletes at the University of Oregon still stands the test of time. Combining architecture, art, and custom environmental graphics the building creates a purpose-built facility that inspires and celebrates the journey to academic success. Partner Gene Sandoval called the building “a platform to help student-athletes succeed in life past the University of Oregon.”
Principal Glen Justice loves this project for the exterior skin innovation. “The building uses a double-glass and double-skin system with a vented interstitial space between. The outer wall is clear, and the inner wall is translucent, giving the building the look of a white box in a glass case. It provides a delicate reflection of trees and activity during the day while transforming into a translucent glowing box at night.”
Most recently featured in Melissa McCarthy’s film Superintelligence as a futuristic command center, this LEED® Platinum and AIA COTE award winner is the regional headquarters for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It continues to perform in the top 1% of similar-sized office buildings in the U.S., eight years after its completion.
Designed in under 18 weeks, the concept features a narrow office bar bent around a central wood-clad atrium called the commons. This dramatic, daylit shared space features timber reclaimed from the former warehouse on the site and serves as the social heart of the building. To borrow from the AIA COTE Top 10 Green Projects jury, “The project subjugates itself to a design idea about community. Also, the contrast between the sleek exterior and warm interior is intriguing, and it feels like an appropriate home for the Army Corps of Engineers—it’s muscular but humane at the same time.”
- Craig Venter Institute (2013)
La Jolla, CA
On the origins of the first net-zero energy biological laboratory in the world, managing partner Ted Hyman says: “Craig Venter, the first person to sequence the human genome, came to us with the goal of designing a place for collaboration and breakthrough research in a high-performance facility…from there, the idea of a net-zero energy laboratory building was born.”
As in biology, form follows function in the design of this LEED® Platinum and net zero ready project. Initial energy savings were achieved with architectural solutions such as sunshades and building orientation, along with innovative MEP solutions to optimize the HVAC and lighting systems. But what takes this project to the next level are the changes in laboratory culture that led to energy reductions. Laptops instead of desktops, water-chilled freezers rather than energy-chilled, and green plugs led to a 73% overall reduction from the baseline target.
1200 Seventeenth in Washington, DC was designed to respond to the city’s growing need for more flexible and efficient working environments. Akridge Real Estate President Matthew J. Klein believes the building meets those goals, saying that it is “the perfect response to the priorities of the discerning Washington business – a highly efficient, column free floor plate with four sides of floor to ceiling glass, thoughtful sustainability, and great architecture.”
The design takes full advantage of the site’s unique characteristics, which include a highly visible location with a completely unobstructed perimeter that offers spectacular views of landmark buildings and urban spaces. The LEED® Platinum building incorporates a historically inspired glazed terra cotta façade juxtaposed against a modern glass tower to connect old and new in the nation’s capital.
- The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (2015)
ZGF teamed with The University of Arizona Cancer Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to bring the future of cancer care to downtown Phoenix. A deliberate layering of glass, bronze-colored metal, and neutral stone forms the building’s architectural expression, which directly relates to the patient experience—their comfort, privacy, and warmth—while simultaneously establishing the building’s unique identity on the campus.
Principal Brett Meyer reflects, “The goal of this project was to provide a healing and positive environment for patients and caregivers facing significant challenges. The key was to allow as much daylight into the space to support a healing, optimistic environment while balancing the significant challenges of the Arizona climate.”
Central energy plants are vital to the performance of a college campus, but rarely are they a pinnacle of good design. This project is an exception. Sited at the heart of Stanford University’s transformational campus-wide energy system, this facility leverages innovative functionality in an engaging structure that expresses the vision and values of the university.
Proven high-performance and ecodistrict planning solutions came together with award-winning design to reduce Stanford’s greenhouse gas emissions by 68%. As described in Dezeen,“The massing and arrangement of the various components minimize the facility’s overall impact on the historic campus, with additional visual shielding provided by elegant metal screens. The overall architectural expression is one of lightness, transparency, and sustainability to express the facility’s purpose.”
- Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City (2016)
In partnership with Mitsui Fudosan, ZGF applied Smart City placemaking techniques to pioneer a new urban planning approach in Kashiwa-no-ha, Japan. The result was the largest LEED® Neighborhood Development Plan Platinum-certified smart city in the world.
The Kashiwa-no-ha project creates a resilient 111-acre district that aims to resolve social, environmental, and economic issues common to existing global cities. Through the effective use of real-time technology and data delivery, Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City connects residents to each other and to the built environment, enabling them to make the best choices for themselves and their environment.
- Expensify Portland Office (2017)
In early 2016, our designers met Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett in an empty shell of a former grandiose bank. Barrett challenged ZGF to imagine what could fill the volume of the empty atrium that would become his company’s new home. The result was a treehouse-like concept with a set of floating conference rooms that utilizes every square inch as program and visually connects the three levels of the office.
The design team incorporated historic details and elements from the original bank throughout to deliver an award-winning workplace that celebrates the century-old structure’s past while embracing its future. Taking inspiration from the ornamental interiors of The Great Gatsby and Mad Men, the adaptive reuse is a charming blend of old and new. Barrett recently told the Portland Business Journal, “It’s a space that is beautiful and we want to share it with the world.”
This 48-story office and hotel tower brings a bold silhouette to the Seattle skyline. Made possible by an innovative structural system with a diagonal steel mega-brace wrapping around the exterior, F5 Tower is Seattle’s first high-rise with column-free floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and expansive floor plates. Partner Allyn Stellmacher explains, “The tight site led directly to the faceted glass and steel geometry of the tower. The tower cants slightly away from its base into the air space over two historic structures, The Sanctuary and The Rainier Club, on the western half of the block.”
The project provides a new model for high-rise developments on a challenging urban site. Located at Fifth and Columbia Street in downtown Seattle, one of the densest locations on the West Coast, the site conditions made it an aspirational undertaking. Daniels Real Estate President Kevin Daniels confessed, “In my wildest dreams I didn’t think it would happen.”
- Google, Spruce Goose (2018)
Playa Vista, CA
Of the adaptive reuse of Howard Hughes’s heroically sized Spruce Goose Hangar into an inspiring new workplace for Google, the AIA National Interior Architecture jury says, “The adaptation of this landmark hangar is incredible and suggests a continuity and parallel in the innovative work of Hughes and Google. Old and new are richer for one another.”
The interplay between the historic structure and new architecture creates a high contrast between repetitious beauty of the old and the dynamic and unpredictable of the new. This allows them to be understood separately, while they are intrinsically connected visually and experientially. Principal Peter van der Meulen explains, “The Google Spruce Goose Hangar adaptation reflects what ZGF does best: out of the box vision, forethought, and creativity that is grounded by context and skillful, technical execution.”
These projects are emblematic of our practice and our ethos. They speak to our collective heart: our drive to create world-class design, tenacity to push the envelope of sustainability, and most importantly, thoughtful consideration of people and place. We hope you’ve enjoyed the snapshot of our work as we embark on creating the next decade of design together.