Project Detail


Federal Center South Building 1202

Seattle United States

ZGF Architects


Project Description

Government Projects

A New Home For The Seattle Office Of The U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Reinvigorates A Superfund site.

The site for Seattle’s newly opened Federal Center South Building 1202 has taken a drubbing over the years, positioned as it is on the banks of the Duwamish Waterway—a highly industrialized urban estuary that earned an unenviable place on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list. Occupied originally by a string of organizations with, at best, spotty environmental records (Ford Motor Co., the U.S. Department of Defense, and Boeing), the existing WWII-era building represented the organizational and environmental miscues of past generations. So, when the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) set out to replace it with a new federal office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it targeted ambitious green standards as a way to create a model for reclaiming this toxic ecology.

With the new structure, the design/build collaboration between ZGF Architects and Sellen Construction sought not only a sustainable approach to construction, but also to the experience of the user. Since moving into the old building more than 30 years ago, the USACE had been confined to a space with 100,000-square-foot floor plates and no operable windows. What this expansive footprint made difficult, 6-foot-high cubicle partitions squelched altogether: Natural air and daylight stood no chance of penetrating this space.

Setting out to reverse this effect, the design team under­took extensive massing studies, and determined that an oxbow-shape plan would allow sunlight to reach the majority of the interior spaces, while limiting the western exposure that would drive up solar heat gains. “We considered a lot of variations, but this particular shape really helped to keep peak loads down,” ZGF partner Allyn Stellmacher, AIA, says.

Individual offices and open-plan workspaces line the perimeter of the new building, giving everyone plenty of exposure to daylight. To boost light levels, offices and conference rooms are located around a skylit, garden-filled atrium.

The atrium “provides an amenity for the employees, but it also does multiple things for the building’s energy systems,” says ZGF’s high-performance green building specialist Chris Flint Chatto, Assoc. AIA, citing its role in venting the natural convection exhaust generated in the perimeter offices. The atrium provides measurable energy-performance benefits, but it also renders the workspace qualitatively more pleasant. Now used as a shared communal space, the atrium has become an important connective tissue between departments that were previously segregated. “I’ve worked here for a few years now, and I’ve been meeting people that I’ve never known or interacted with,” says Robert Paulson, a USACE project manager. “There’s a lot of kinetic energy throughout the building,” he adds. “The elevators don’t get used that often, since people now use the building’s many stairs.”

The foundations themselves also integrate different systems. Because the building sits on sedimentatious soil, its piles reach 150 feet deep. Not content to devote that material and energy to a single purpose, the team coupled the piles with hydronic loops for geothermal systems. But the systems are not all below-grade: Chilled sails provide radiant cooling to the interior and a phase-change material tank keeps loads low. And with 100 percent outside air intake, the working environment is noticeably fresher. As part of the contract with the USACE, the GSA will monitor energy performance each month during the first year. Though the first month’s numbers have not yet been compiled, GSA project manager Rick Thomas has heard unofficial reports from the independent group that monitors the numbers, saying, “They look good.”

Even with impressive quantitative objectives, the team was determined to push beyond the metrics that have come to define sustainable design. “We had an ambitious model for energy efficiency,” Stellmacher says. But with every decision, “we were always focused on the workplace environment.”


Project Details

Federal Center South Building 1202
Shared by:
Firm Name:
Project Team:
    ZGF Architects,Architect;
  • Partners-In-Charge: ZGF Architects-Robert Zimmerman 
  • Partners-In-Charge: ZGF Architects-Allyn Stellmacher 
  • Design Principals: John Chau 
  • Design Principals: Dan Simpson 
  • Project Manager: Todd Stine 
  • Project Architects: Daniel Brindisi 
  • Project Architects: Elizabeth Grace 
  • Project Architects: Justin Rabe 
  • Project Designer: Michael Steinberg 
  • Space Planning: Kimberly Scott 
  • Space Planning: Lisa Schettler 
  • High-Performance Green Building Specialists: John Breshears 
  • High-Performance Green Building Specialists: Christopher Flint Chatto 
  • Design Team: Randal Bennett 
  • Design Team: Ellen Campbell 
  • Design Team: Marc Chavez 
  • Design Team: Melissa Eby 
  • Design Team: Brian Geller 
  • Design Team: Gabriel Hanson 
  • Design Team: Stephanie Hsie 
  • Design Team: Glen Justice 
  • Design Team: Kirsten Justice 
  • Design Team: Heather Karch 
  • Design Team: Bertha Martinez 
  • Design Team: Camila Obniski 
  • Design Team: Frances Orona 
  • Design Team: Chris Peterson 
  • Design Team: Timothy Pfeiffer 
  • Design Team: Franco Rosete 
  • Design Team: Jonah Ross 
  • Design Team: Molly Simmons 
  • Design Team: Elizabeth Stroshane 
  • Design Team: Jessica Swann 
  • Design Team: Asmund Tweto 
  • Team: David Fedyk 
  • Team: Curtis Ma 
  • Team: Maria Angela Mills 
  • Team: Leslie Morison 
  • Team: Chloe Mitchell 
  • Team: Heidi Schindler 
  • Team: Jill Sandnes 
  • Team: Tomoko Uno 
  • Team: James Wise 
  • Team: Mary Ann Shepherd 
  • Team: Erin Zangari 
  • Interior Designer: ZGF Architects 
  • Mechanical Engineer: WSP Flack & Kurtz 
  • Civil Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers 
  • Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers 
  • Electrical Engineer: Lane Coburn & Associates 
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Hart Crowser & Associates 
  • Construction Manager: Heery 
  • General Contractor: Sellen Construction 
  • Landscape Architect: Site Workshop 
  • Lighting Designer: WSP Flack & Kurtz 
  • High Performance Design: Built Ecology 
  • Signage, Wayfinding, and Graphics: Studio SC 
  • Acoustics: Greenbusch Group 
  • Elevator: Lerch Bates 
  • Life Safety: Rolf Jensen & Associates 
Project Scope:
Project Type:
Project Status:
Project Size:
Construction Cost:

Specified Products

Materials and Sources

Access Flooring Tate Access Floors

Acoustical Panel Ceilings Armstrong Ceiling Systems; F-Sorb; Decoustics Limited

Acoustical Wall Panels Snap-Tex Northwest Inc.

Acoustical Wall Panels, Fabrics Carnegie; Knoll

Building Management Systems and Services Siemens

Carpet Tiling Shaw Contract Group; Mannington Commercial

Concrete: Polished Sellen Construction

Cornerguards JL Industries

Decorative Formed Metal Forms + Surfaces

Entrance Floor Grilles Nystrom

Exterior Stainless Steel Shingles Millenium Tiles

Fiber Reinforced Plastics and Laminates Panolam Industries Intl.

Glass Northwestern Industries (typical exterior); DeaMor (atrium skylight and entrance canopy); Walters and Wolf (ribbon windows and curatinwall)

Glass Coatings Guardian Industries

Horizontal Louver Blinds Levolor

HVAC Innovent (air handling units); HydroTherm (condensing boilers); Phase Change Material Products (phase change materials); Carrier (heat recovery chiller); Runtal Radiators (wall radiators); Barcol-Air USA (chilled beams); Nailor Industires (fan coil units)

Insulation Knauf Insulation

Insulated Cold Formed Steel Headers Envirobeam

Interior Painting Glidden; Parker Paint Color Life; Sherwin Williams

Lighting Control Systems Lutron

Lighting ALKCO; Bega U.S.; DesignPlan; Focal Point Lights; Gotham Architectural Down Lighting; Illuminating Resource; Insight; Integrated Illumination Systems; Lighting Group Northwest; RW/Harvco; Santa Cole; Sylvania

Masonry and Stone Mutual Materials (ground face CMU); Quarry S/E (crushed black pebble); Stone Sculptures (atrium)

Metal USS POSCO Industries (exterior cold-formed); ASC Steel Deck (metal decking)

Millwork Custom

Overhead Coiling Grilles Cornell

Paints and Finishes Benjamin Moore & Co.; Comex Group; Formica; Glidden; Miller; Nevamar; Parker Paint Color Life; Rodda; Sherwin Williams; Wilsonart International

Plaster Niehaus Construction Services (decorative cast plaster); USG; National Gypsum

Plastic Laminates Formica; Nevamar; Wilsonart International

Plumbing Fixtures American Standard; Bemis Manufacturing Co. (plastic toilet seats); Dearborn Brass; Elkay; Haws; Kohler; McGuire Manufacturing Co.; Truebro; Zurn Industries

Plumbing and Water System American; Englehart; FNW; Harris; NIBCO; ProFlo; Romac; Tyler; Uponor; Victaulic; Viega; Watts

Resilient Base and Accessories Johnsonite

Roller Window Shades Mecho Shade Systems

Roofing Johns Manville; Soprema; Xero Flor (green roof system)

Rubber Tile Flooring Capri Cork

Seating By owner

Slatwall Marlite

Skylights Sunoptics Skylights

Solid Surfacing Material Caesarstone; Pental Granite and Marble

Sound Masking System Logison Acoustic Network

Supergraphics GlassPro

Tiling American Olean Tile (locker room shower floor); Arizona Tile (executive washroom); Casa Dolce Casa (floor at locker rooms); Crossville (locker room shower walls); United Tile (backsplashes); Viva (toilet room walls and base, locker room walls and base)

Upholstery Spinneybeck Leather

Water Reclamation System AMIAD Filtration Systems

Woodwork G.R. Plume (structural); Northwest Millwork (architectural); Sellen (architectural)

Wood Storefronts Washington Hardwoods (interior)



Please read our Content Guidelines before posting.

Other Government Projects


Other United States Projects