Transforming a highly contaminated brownfield site into a classic Cape Cod landscape was a laborious process - in addition to chemicals, the clean-up teams pulled an intact motorcycle and other trash from the ground - but it paid off: the IFAW headquarters project received LEED Gold certification in December 2008.
The entrance to the IFAW headquarters is located at the northeast corner of the middle shed, and the wood boardwalk and siding, as well as the glass, begin to set the material vocabulary for the rest of the complex.
To keep with the overall Cape Cod aesthetic, the design team split the needed 55,000 square feet into three connected buildings in a horseshoe configuration. Expansive glazing allows for views onto the meadow landscape created by Stephen Stimson Associates and lets workers in the open office spaces see into each of the other buildings. Stationary wood louvers help to block glare, and an exterior boardwalk around the perimeter of the courtyard provides circulation during the warmer months.
A system of stationary wood louvers covers the double-height glazing on the courtyard walls. The louvers are 7 inches wide, and 1 1/2 inches thick and provide sunshading for the open office areas within the building while still admitting ample daylight.
The wooden slats are made from jarrah, a renewable species of eucalyptus in Western Australia that complements the mahogany used for exterior boardwalks.
Metal spacers delineate window bays while also providing an anchor point for window-washing platforms to be affixed to the side of the building.
A steel anchor is set into the building foundation and is connected to the steel louver supports with a steel pin, ensuring that the louvers are secure, even in high winds.
Double-height spaces like this one by the main entrance are used throughout the building to promote interaction between the workers on different floors. Hardwood stair treads are capped with an inset oil-rubbed bronze nosing. Hardwood railings are supported by steel balusters, and 5/8-inch-thick laminated glass completes the handrail assembly.
Hardwood complementing the mahogany of the exterior boardwalk continues inside, forming an interior boardwalk that follows the glazed façade. The same hardwood reappears on the staircases.
There are no corridors in a traditional sense in the IFAW headquarters. Instead, there is what the architects call an "exhibit trail," which meanders through the interior. At 13 points along the trail, text and graphics explain the IFAW's mission and the building's key environmental strategies. One of the graphics, an elephant, is visible from inside a conference room.
On the second floor, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows afford views of the outdoors, one benefit of going through the site-remediation process. Despite the cost of the cleanup, as well as the rich hardwood detailing throughout the building, the cost was a modest $220 per square foot-or $80 below comparable area projects.