Family owned since 1916, the Washington Fruit & Produce company in Yakima asked Seattle firm Graham Baba Architects to design its new headquarters with a look departing from that of most industrial agribusiness facilities.
The brief seemed to say “get back to the land,” given that the owners like the vernacular architecture of old barns. “From this grew the idea that the building would have a utilitarian, agricultural, and worn feel,” says Graham Baba project manager Jenn LaFreniere.
But barns aren’t usually flooded with natural light, which the client also wanted. So Graham Baba came up with a careful plan for exterior glazing. One large window wall on the north side takes advantage of Yakima’s approximately 290 sunny days each year. The architects added small clerestory windows on the south. “This way, even light is cast over the workstations, versus all of it coming in from one side,” LaFreniere explains. The team chose Solarban 60 glazing for an interior courtyard to further promote visibility into the building; Solarban 70 was used along the southern facades to lessen heat gain.
To combine the efficient glazing with barnlike features, the team created an exterior of sloping, 18-foot-high structural columns and an outer shell clad in reclaimed local barnwood. Glass fills in the exposed spaces. A Wausau glass wall system—measuring 18 feet high and more than 150 feet long at points—was specified throughout and has controllable shades.
“One of the biggest challenges was consistent lighting and climate control in a location where weather changes dramatically,” says LaFreniere.