- Project Name
- Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters
- Graham Baba Architects
- Washington Fruit & Produce Co.
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 16,500 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
Brett Baba, Design Principal
Jenn LaFreniere, Project Manager
Hill Pierce , Project Architect
Construction contractor: Artisan Construction,Structural Engineer: MA Wright, LLC,Electrical Engineer: ARUP,Plumbing Engineer: ARUP,Other: Arup (fire protection),Landscape Architect: The Berger Partnership,Lighting Designer: Brian Hood Lighting
- Project Status
“This oasis among warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial, and formal. It is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community, and productivity.” —Jury statement
Long gone are the idyllic red-roofed barns and wooden silos of old: Today, the contemporary American pastoral landscape is very often one of big metal-clad boxes and the occasional ranch house, neither possessed of a great deal of architectural character. Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects’ headquarters for the Washington Fruit & Produce Co. of Yakima, Wash., is intended as an antidote to this condition, a strong dose of organic elegance on par with the rolling hills and open fields of the breadbasket of the Pacific Northwest.
A structural exoskeleton of laminated wood buttresses removes the need for any interior supports, simultaneously establishing a steady rhythm around the perimeter of the horseshoe-shaped, one-story groundscraper and allowing for a column-free interior. That 16,500-square-foot space, faced in floor-to-ceiling glass, looks on one side onto a courtyard with plantings and paths, and on the other to a sweeping view across the countryside. A berm on the edge of the site cleverly obscures a nearby highway so that nothing disturbs the bucolic scene. There’s even a portion of an aging barn on site—just a little reminder of the area’s picturesque past.
As important as what workers can see are all the things they’ll probably never notice: From the siding made of recycled wood salvaged from a former barn, to the high-performance glass in the tall windows, the building is a paragon of eco-friendliness, making it a true breath of fresh air for the standard architecture of agrobusiness.
Project: Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters, Yakina, Wash.
Architect/Interior Design: Graham Baba Architects, Seattle . Brett Baba, Jenn LaFreniere, Hill Pierce
Client: Washington Fruit & Produce Co.
General Contractor: Artisan Construction
Structural Engineer: MA Wright
M/E/P Engineer: Arup
Civil Engineer: Meier Architecture • Engineering
Landscape Architect: The Berger Partnership
Lighting Design: Brian Hood Lighting Design
Size: 16,500 square feet
FROM THE AIA:
Company leaders desired a new office/headquarters that would serve as a refuge from the industrial agribusiness landscape that surround them. They asked for warmer materials, little-to-no concrete, non-boxlike forms, protection from the freeway, and a spare office aesthetic that minimized visible equipment or devices. The approach for the new 16,500-square-foot office was to create an inwardly focused oasis. The building is light, from the delicate, expressive structural beams to the ample amount of daylight throughout. The building tucks into its environment to merge with nature.
FROM THE 2018 INSTITUTE HONOR AWARDS FOR ARCHITECTURE JURY:
This sits on the landscape beautifully and creates space for meaningful community. The oasis among the warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial and formal. The design idea is integral and cohesive. An idea with depth. Occupied spaces are oriented towards the heart of the place - the courtyard, avoiding views towards the surrounding freeway and industrial warehouses; earth berms surrounding the building focalize views out to the landscape and blurring the boundary of architecture and site. The owners’ commitment to creating a respite from the industrial environment for their employees led to an exploration of curating views and outdoor spaces. The result is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community and productivity.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Surrounded by the world’s most high-tech fruit packing warehouses, the 16,500-square-foot Washington Fruit & Produce Co. headquarters is conceived as an oasis amidst a sea of concrete and low-lying brush landscape. Tucked behind landforms and site walls, this courtyard-focused office complex provides a refuge from the noise and activity of the industrial processing yards nearby.
Taking its design cue from an aging barn that the client had identified as a favorite, the concept seeks to capture the essence of an utilitarian agricultural aesthetic. A simple exposed structure that employs a limited material palette and natural patina, the design merges rural vernacular with an equally spare contemporary aesthetic.
The L-shaped building is nested into the landscape through the use of board-formed concrete site walls and earthen berms that wrap the perimeter to form a central, landscaped courtyard. Soil excavated for foundation work was repurposed for the perimeter berms, eliminating the need to remove it or add more.
A notch through the berm provides access from the parking area to the formal courtyard and building entrance. Crossing the courtyard via a boardwalk, the visitor is embraced by a fully-glazed facade, punctuated by a series of wood columns that march across the building in regular intervals. The boardwalk aligns with an off-set building entry, which is formed as a wood-wrapped passageway inserted into the glazed facade.
The building recalls its agricultural roots by pulling the 18-foot-tall scissored glu-lam structural columns to the outside, revealing the physics of its construction and enabling the 175-foot-long interior volume to be column free. Topped with 68-foot-long exposed truss girders, the interior reaches 20-feet at its peak. The repetitive nature of the structure ensured easy fabrication and assembly, saving costs and resources. The north-facing courtyard facade is glazed along its length, visually extending the interior space into the courtyard. Interior light is balanced via a long clerestory dormer on the south, while the extensive use of large, south-facing overhangs and high efficiency glazing limits summer heat gain. Reclaimed barn wood siding and a weathering steel roof round out the exterior materials.
Spartan, daylight-filled interiors are complemented by a warm, simple palette of natural materials. Private offices line the south wall, while conference spaces and back-of-house functions are set in wood-clad boxes. Interior furnishings terminate well below the ceiling. The open feeling of the structure is reinforced by keeping furnishings low and allowing them to float within the space. Lighting consists of custom-designed uplights, which keep the ceiling plane tidy. A raised flooring system further ensures that the clean aesthetic is preserved and free of cabling. The deep agricultural roots of both the company and location underlie the simple design concept and attention to detail throughout the project.
The sales office is located in the short arm of the L to isolate noise and enhance privacy. Adjacent to the sales office is a separately-enclosed structure featuring a 30-foot-long table where farmers with whom the company works gather for communal meals. The exposed structural system connecting the lunch room to the main building creates a small, partially covered courtyard, nodding to a remnant of an aging barn.
Views throughout the thirty-acre complex are controlled, whether to the courtyard, the distant hills, or to the shallow private office views created between the building and the berms. Everything is curated to create a peaceful environment in which to work.