Like many fast-growing suburbs, Redmond, Washington, knew plenty about constructing roads and fire stations but little about making civic buildings. Home to both Microsoft and Nintendo, this town—16 miles east of Seattle—saw its population jump by nearly one third, to 46,000 people, in the past 20 years. At the same time, the city’s staff more than doubled, growing into seven different facilities. Operational efficiency demanded consolidation. But the design-bid-build process, once the norm for civic facilities, carries financial and political risks in today’s environment of spiraling construction costs. So Redmond chose a path increasingly popular with municipalities nationwide: forming a nonprofit corporation that finances and constructs a building, then leases it back to the city.
The client wanted a new gateway municipal facility located on the main arterial road. Part of an existing 17-acre government campus, the site abuts the Sammamish River and 10 acres of open space that the city will turn into a park. The program was simple: a 105-seat council chamber and offices for the 270-person municipal staff, with expansion space for 80 more people. The city also wanted the project to earn a LEED Silver rating.
The city’s nonprofit Redmond Community Properties hired Wright Runstad & Company as a fee developer, which in turn held a design competition juried by its own staff, the mayor, and the city council. Unlike other finalists, who responded with boxlike structures, MulvannyG2 split its building into two steel-framed wings, one oriented south to face the main road, the other toward the river. A double-height lobby connects them, offset at one corner by an asymmetrical, drum-shaped council chamber.
Lead designer Ming Zhang hoped to create “a new, 21st-century image for government,” an environment that projects both dignity and the friendly informality epitomized by Redmond’s culture of boundary-busting innovation. A grand, three-story colonnade with a wide canopy roof defines the main entry: Pivot joints connecting its steel columns offer playful, erector-set versions of capitals and bases, while soft Algerian sandstone clads the facade along this elevation. By contrast, the building’s roadside face is covered in precast stone, dignified enough for passing cars but without real stone’s cost.
The council chamber volume stands almost as a separate entity at the building’s northeast corner. Copper panels facing the entry signal “civic importance,” while a floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall, facing the park, lets soft northern light into the chamber and symbolizes government transparency. Zhang’s overarching goal was to “link humans to nature.” Accordingly, the lobby brings some of the building’s grand exterior scale indoors.
Redmond Community Properties, a subsidiary of the National Development Council
Design principal/lead designer:
Public space designed by MulvannyG2 Architecture; office space designed by Perrault Interiors www.perraultinteriors.com
Civil & Structural:
Lease Crutcher Lewis www.lewisbuilds.com
Composite slab and steel beam system
Metal/glass curtainwall: Aluminum composite panels by Alpolic www.alpolic-usa.com
Concrete: Algerian sandstone and yellow mountain granite stone-faced pre-cast panels
Elastomeric: Sarnafil G410 EnergySmart roof membrane www.sarnafilus.com
Aluminum: Walters and Wolf aluminum-framed curtainwall system www.waltersandwolf.com
Insulated panel or plastic glazing:
Entrances: Walters and Wolf all-glass entrances and aluminum-framed entrances www.waltersandwolf.com
Metal doors: Curries hollow metal door frames www.curries.com
Wood doors: VT Industries stile and rail wood doors www.vtindustries.com
Special doors: Wayne Dalton model K-A1 sectional door www.wayne-dalton.com
Hinges: McKinney www.mckinneyhinge.com
Closers: Sargen twww.sargentlock.com
Exit devices: Sargent www.sargentlock.com
Security devices: Allied Security www.allied-security.com
Cabinet hardware: Parrot
Acoustical ceilings: Hunter Douglas Techstyle acoustical mat www.hunterdouglas.com
Suspension grid: Armstrong 704 Tegular www.armstrong.com
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Paints and stains
Wallcoverings: Steel; KnollTextiles www.knoll.com
Floor and wall tile: Limestone at lobby; Dal-Tile at bathrooms www.daltile.com
Office furniture: Herman Miller Ethospace www.hermanmiller.com
Reception furniture: Parrot
Fixed seating: Caper, Aside www.hermanmiller.com
Interior ambient lighting: