Seattle, Washington

Owner: Vulcan, Inc.

Program: A three-level, 112,000-square-foot headquarters for the nonprofit global health organization PATH. Located in a five-story mixed-use building near downtown Seattle, the new headquarters offers nearly twice the space of PATH's old office, which it had outgrown. The project includes open-plan office space, conference rooms, small meeting rooms, a lab and shop for the organization's scientists and researchers, a library, a café, and several kitchenettes scattered over the three floors.

Design Concept and Solution: PATH's old headquarters tended to limit interaction among colleagues, with its emphasis on individual offices and its multiple floors, which felt closed off from one another. Charged with designing a new, larger space that would encourage employees to share knowledge and ideas, SkB Architects knew that simply setting up an open-plan office wouldn't have much effect on what was a rather solitary organizational culture. To set up the space in a way that would build interaction into normal routines, the architects treated necessities—office supply storage, kitchenettes, the café—as focal points rather than out-of-the-way secondary spaces, and decorated these utility areas to be inviting, almost domestic places. SkB connected the three floors with a central open stair; they treated each landing and its surroundings as a social hub dedicated to public meeting space, supplies, or food and drink. Each floor has one or two kitchenettes with textured, family-style furnishings (big oak tables, islands made from salvaged wood) and above-cabinet lighting that washes the ceilings and walls in soft, indirect light. To mitigate the repetitiveness that can take hold in large open-office plans with row upon row of workstations, the architects broke up the ceiling with floating acoustic planes and a mix of decorative hanging light fixtures. And they balanced the open space with a lot of glass-fronted work rooms for small groups and private use. These—like the rest of the office—are decorated almost as a collective living room, with tapestries, artwork, rugs, and crafts collected by PATH employees over their many years of travel to Africa, India, Malaysia, and other parts of the world. Texture was important to SkB's approach to the interiors: in addition to favoring old wood and PATH's own cache of vintage furnishings, they left the building's existing concrete raised floor system exposed, adding area rugs to soften the cool tones of the concrete.

SkB Architects
2333 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
Tel: (206) 903-0575
Fax: (206) 903-1586

Completion Date:
January 2010

Gross square footage:
102,000 Sq. Ft.

Construction cost:
Withheld at owner’s request


Owner: Vulcan, Inc.

SkB Architects
2333 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
Tel: (206) 903-0575
Fax: (206) 903-1586

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Shannon Gaffney – Principal in Charge (Registered Architect)
Kyle Gaffney – Principal
Brian Collins-Friedrichs – Principal (Registered Architect)
Steve Olson – Project Manager (Registered Architect)
Russell Blazier – Project Architect
Tim Posey – Project Designer
Jami Howard – Interior Designer

Architect of record: SkB Architects

Interior designer: SkB Architects

Mechanical: McKinstry, Rushing

Electrical: Sasco Electric

Structural: Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Inc.

Lighting: Rushing

Acoustical: Sparling

Project Management: The Seneca Group

Laboratory: Jones Lang Lasalle

LEED: GVA Kidder Matthews

General contractor: Sellen Construction Company

Lara Swimmer Photography
(206) 284-5213

Renderer(s): SkB Architects

CAD system, project management, or other software used: Microstation V-8



Aluminum: Accura Systems, Inc, Alpha Aluminum (interior doors/lites)

Glass: Hartung (interior)

Insulated-panel or plastic glazing: Saflex (acoustic)

Entrances: Vistawall

Metal doors: Curries, Steelcraft

Wood doors: Washington Hardwoods

Sliding doors: Washington Hardwoods

Fire-control doors, security grilles: Cornell

Special doors: Stiles Custom Metal, Inc. (Acoustic), Eliason (Shop)

Operable Partitions: Hufcor

Locksets: Corbin Russwin

Hinges: Stanley, Rixson

Closers: Dorma, Corbin Russwin, Pemko

Exit devices: Corbin Russwin, Ives

Pulls: Rockwood, Trimco

Security devices: Architectural Control Systems, Inc, Alarm Lock

Cabinet hardware: Hafele, Epco

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong

Suspension grid: Armstrong

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Custom Interiors, ISEC (Lab)

Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore, Scuffmaster

Wall coverings: Philip Jeffries, Donghia, Maharam, Carnegie, Pollack, Koroseal, Wall Talkers

Paneling: Custom Interiors

Plastic laminate:  Abet Laminati, Laminart, Formica, Oberflex, Nevamar

Special surfacing: Pulp Studios, Richlite, Meyer|Wells

Wood flooring: Admonter

Resilient flooring: Mannington, Johnsonite

Traffic flooring: Neogard

Carpet: J&J | Invision, Constantine

Raised flooring: Haworth - TecCrete

Office furniture: Allsteel

Reception furniture: Bright (seating), Crate & Barrel, West Elm, reclaimed antiques by PATH (side tables)

Chairs: Herman Miller, Keilhauer (task), Andreu World, Thayer, Bright (side), Keilhauer, ISA, Acerey, McGuire (lounge)

Tables:  Gibraltar (conference), Andreu World (café), Room & Board, reclaimed antiques by PATH (side tables) 

Upholstery: Maharam, DesignTex, Schumacher, Brentano, S. Harris

Interior ambient lighting: Cooper, Resolute (Custom), Tom Dixon, Focal Point, Sonneman

Downlights: Cooper, Ledalite, Focal Point, Pinnacle, Spectrum

Task lighting: Allsteel

Kohler, Elkay, Chicago Faucet, Delta, Zurn, American Specialties

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Acoustic / Vibration Isolation:  Mason Industries