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9th and Stewart, A New Sustainable and Flexible Lab

Edward Breen, AIA, MBT Architecture

The 9th & Stewart Life Sciences Building is an 11-story multipurpose laboratory and technology building. The project includes 212,000 square feet of rentable lab/office space, plus secured parking for 200 cars and 4,000 square feet of ground-level retail. Corixa is the lead tenant, with 143,000 square feet. The project is participating in a pilot for the Core and Shell LEED™ program.

This development is unique to Seattle and throughout the Biotech marketplace. We successfully created a generic Biotechnology Shell & Core Building of institutional quality at a reasonable cost allowing the ownership to lease the space at market rates for private research and development companies. This building provides tenants with many of the infrastructure qualities of a build-to-suit and maintains ultimate flexibility for the ever changing needs of Biotechnology and Biomedical companies.

The massing of the building is driven by maximizing the floor plates allowed by floor area ratio standards rather than the height limit of the DMC-240 Zone. This keeps redundancy of systems to a minimum. The building is organized to reveal its specific function as a life sciences building. Accordingly the Stewart Street elevation is composed around a central spine that houses floor by floor mechanical equipment for each tenant. This "systems" spine ascends through the laboratory levels to the roof where it surounds cooling towers and houses specialty exhaust systems in a perforated metal screen. On either side of the spine, the facade is composed of window wall and metal panel spandrels, also repeated on the north side of the building.

The notion of pursuing LEED™ Certification occurred to us at about halfway through the Design Development phase. The combination of the project site being an urban infill, Owner directed sustainable amenities and our own green design approach had us almost to "Certified" status when we checked the points matrix. I jokingly suggested that we should probably just go for Silver and the Owner said, "Good Idea!"

This building is a reaction to the trend of biotech firms locating well outside the city in low-rise complexes surrounded by large surface parking lots. The three year process of planning through construction has taught lessons. Careful planning can bring forth a flexible and economical lab in a highrise structure. It is never too late to pursue sustainability in a building, but it is a heck of a lot easier when a clear picture of what will be included emerges at the beginning.

Labs21 Connection:

9th & Stewart Life Sciences Building is unique as a speculative, urban, highrise R&D shell and Core building project. The ability to add HVAC systems of varying sizes on a floor-by-floor basis allows staggered tenant move-ins without interrupting existing users.

Its structure is a response to a need for speed of delivery balanced against economic reality of steel price increases and a need for high-capacity and low vibration floor.

The Mechanical and Electrical Systems were programmed to the extent possible without a particular tenant in mind. Test layouts were generated for 40/60,50/50, and 60/40 lab to office ratios. We test fit multi tenant floors as well as single. We have shaft area in place to accommodate a large amount of specialty exhaust per floor should the need arise.

We employed the use of offset beams in 31.5' bays for a 10.5' lab module. This allows columns to center on benches while leaving no structural obstructions in the way of coring below the benches. The project has been submitted to the LEED™ for CS pilot program.

I have satisfaction knowing the amount of water being saved with the use of dual flush toilets and waterless urinals. I am happy that the elevator we used is equipped with a regenerative drive. My major disappointment is the 260' of five foot diameter stormwater detention pipe that the local code will not allow to be used in any capacity for landscape irrigation. There will be means to harvest water on my next project!

Through all of this we employed numerous of the Labs21 Approach elements. The owner has purchased a renewable 2-year green power certificate for the project as an energy and environment goal. Low VOC finishes and the low and no-flow toilet fixtures are a whole building approach. Some of our equipment, like the Dolphin low-drift cooling tower was higher initial investment but will begin to pay off almost immediately. Most (82%) of these early purchases will pay for themselves within 5 years. The remaining 18% is projected to 12 +/- years. This particular section of Seattle is forecast for an energy crisis when it approaches being built out. Several options are being studied on a neighborhood level with Touchstone being an active partner in the discussions. Our LEED™ submittal package included 34 potential credit points.


Edward Breen is an architect and member of the AIA. He has been with MBT Architecture, working in their Seattle office since late in 1998. Projects he has managed include the Rosen Building, an off-campus laboratory for the University of Washington and developed by Schnitzer Northwest. This project converted a former timber warehouse into a sophisticated research facility and was a R&D Lab of the Year winner. The 9th and Stewart Life Sciences Building has garnered Puget Sound NAIOP Tech Building of the year honors. Before MBT, he was a project manager for the Art Institute of Chicago. While here he managed a diverse range of projects including the restoration of the Clarence Buckingham Fountain on Chicago's waterfront. This project received a National AIA award for Restoration of the Year.

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