The world’s most beautiful corporate campus is about to be turned into

Inside eyesight of drivers on I-5 in Federal Means, Washington, a celebrated exemplar of modernist panorama structure and constructing design peeks out from a forest of evergreens. Like a skyscraper turned on its facet, the constructing seems to be a low concrete bridge stretching throughout the panorama. The lengthy horizontal tiers of its 5 flooring are draped in ivy and overlook a pond and a meadow. It’s surrounded by lush gardens of wildflowers, and threaded via with strolling trails that disappear into the maples and pine timber past

This verdant tableau may quickly be joined by 1.5 million sq. ft of warehouses, serviced by upwards of 800 vehicles a day. It’s a proposition that’s spurred a marketing campaign of opposition from among the largest names in panorama structure, together with the venture’s authentic designer.

The web site, about 25 miles south of Seattle, is the previous corporate headquarters of the Weyerhaeuser timber firm, a venture constructed within the early Seventies that paved the way in which for environmentally aware constructing within the corporate realm. The Cultural Panorama Basis (TCLF), a nonprofit targeted on the preservation and stewardship of panorama heritage, has deemed the campus a nationally vital area worthy of being acknowledged as a National Historic Landmark.

The group has additionally labeled the positioning vulnerable to being irreparably broken by the proposed warehouse growth, and started gathering letters opposing the event, written to native and federal officers by distinguished students and designers, together with Peter Walker, the panorama architect of the campus who extra just lately did the panorama design for the 9/11 Memorial. “No different venture in fashionable environmental design has achieved such a excessive stage of built-in constructing and organic setting,” Walker writes in his letter.


[Photo: SWA/courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation]

A precursor to the sustainability-focused workplaces and campuses of the likes of Google and Unilever, the Weyerhaeuser campus was designed to join with the panorama as a mirrored image of the corporate’s method to forestry. Accomplished in 1972, the 425-acre campus was designed by Walker, founding principal of the panorama structure agency Sasaki, Walker and Associates, and architect Edward Charles Bassett, accomplice at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. TCLF president and CEO Charles Birnbaum says it was the primary giant scale ecologically pushed campus design that aimed to “lay evenly” on the land.

“One of many issues that’s actually necessary right here is it’s not simply the truth that these are performing woodlands and that this is a performative panorama that is alive and dynamic, however it is additionally about the way in which during which the panorama is getting used and the general public is being invited in,” says Birnbaum.

The park-like setting and 12 miles of trails made the campus really feel like a part of the group. So when the property was offered in 2016, many fearful about the warehouse plans of the brand new proprietor, the California-based developer Industrial Realty Group. A group group shaped to become involved within the public planning and approvals course of for the historic web site, which additionally features a bonsai museum and rhododendron backyard.

“For over 40 years the property has been loved by the general public from throughout. They arrive and stroll their canine,” says Lori Sechrist, a resident of Federal Means and president of Save Weyerhaeuser Campus. “These trails all through will be disrupted. They’ll go away.”

For the previous 4 years, Sechrist and her group have been attending public conferences about the proposed warehouse growth on the positioning, together with evaluations of the campus’s historic significance and the impression the venture may have on the positioning’s wetlands. She says the aim isn’t to cease growth, however to cut back its footprint and visible impression. “We’ve by no means advocated towards growth,” Sechrist says. “We proceed to strive to stress cheap, accountable growth. We all know the scale of these buildings total are simply too giant.”

The five warehouses being proposed would be about 40 feet tall, with a cumulative footprint that may lead to lots of of vehicles driving out and in of the campus each day. Sechrist says the site visitors impression will doubtless lead to street widening, which is able to then minimize down the forest buffer that may in any other case cut back the visible impression of those new buildings. Her group has been calling on the developer to cut back the scale of the buildings, in addition to the entire space of the deliberate warehouses, which presently haven’t any named tenant. They’ve successfully waged appeals of some elements of the assessment and approvals course of, subjecting the venture to tighter scrutiny on mitigating environmental and site visitors impacts.

[Photo: Chris Dimond/PWP/courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation]

Dana Ostenson, government vice chairman at Industrial Realty Group, says the impression to the positioning is being overstated, and that the corporate has plans to protect its open area, in addition to the ivy-covered horizontal constructing at its middle. In an opinion piece in the Tacoma News Tribune final March, Ostenson claimed that 11 miles of trails would stay open for public use and that the corporate deliberate to develop solely 21% of the campus, “except we proceed to be held up within the enchantment course of.” Ostenson didn’t reply to an interview request.


Although the corporate has pledged to protect the historic constructing and landscapes of the campus, each Save Weyerhaeuser Campus and TCLF argue that what’s deliberate goes too far. A part of the unique campus plan included areas put aside for potential future growth. A few of Industrial Realty Group’s proposed warehouses sit inside these zones, however others stretch far exterior them. “To fake that they aren’t going to be seen from a number of vantage factors each inside and from the interstate, we’re not satisfied,” says Birnbaum.

However the venture could be going ahead nonetheless. The first warehouse has obtained environmental and land use approvals from the town, and is now awaiting its constructing allow. Sechrist says evaluations from state historic sources officers are ongoing, and that her group has been in a back-and-forth with the developer about altering the proposed growth to cut back its impression. These so-called mitigation efforts are nonetheless pending, however Sechrist is hoping they’ll come to a compromise on the scale of the warehouses and the quantity of forest buffer that may exist between them and the remainder of the campus. The subsequent assembly will happen on Friday. Extra concessions could be attainable via this course of, however Sechrist concedes that some growth is coming to the positioning regardless.

For now, the way forward for the campus is undecided. Birnbaum and TCLF maintain encouraging these involved to ship letters to officers in Federal Means. He says his group is not opposed to growth on the positioning, however simply desires its historic character and significance to be as protected as attainable. “This is an icon,” he says. “And the truth is that it is worthy of a better stage of thoughtfulness and creativity than it’s presently being afforded.”