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Green-Roof Pioneering 'Groundscraper' to Seek a New Steward

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Before the green roof was applied to everything from boarding schools to fast food restaurants, and the modern class of flora-covered skyscrapers started to rise, there was the Weyerhaeuser campus in Federal Way, Washington. Built in 1971 for the real estate investment trust and wood product manufacturer off a plan by American architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with landscape design by PWP Landscape Architecture, the so-called "groundscraper" is one of the first examples of a suburban corporate HQ integrated into the surrounding landscape, of the kind that Frank Gehry designed for Facebook. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Weyerhaeuser will be selling off the space—which was recognized by the AIA in 1972 and later in 2001 as a "milestone project"—when it moves into its new HQ in Seattle's Pioneer Square.

In a 2008 interview with Metropolis, SOM partner Stephen Apking described the five-story complex as a set of "long slabs that were all planted with green roofs" with deep overhangs that "acted as the brise-soleil, controlling the direct sunlight and glare into the offices." Aside from using the design to help pioneer the development of the energy efficient office space, SOM also collaborated with Knoll to implement an "open-landscape office system." Guided by what a project statement calls a principle of "undefined boundaries," SOM left the inside largely free of full-height partitions, emphasizing the diamond-shaped grid of the interior and exterior columns. Surrounding each floor is what Weyerhaeuser claims is the "largest set of nonsash window walls in the world."

The move will take place, according to a press release, in mid-to-late 2016 when construction of the company's new Seattle office is complete. So far, it's been suggested that the SOM-designed space would make a good college campus.

· For sale: Weyerhaeuser's picturesque Federal Way campus [Puget Sound Business Journal]