Broken Windows

The windows on the second floor of that building are seriously messed up.  Some of the lower sections have popped out, allowing fresh air from outside to flow directly inside to where the people are.  Whacked.

The second floor of the building at 2nd and University shown above is the office of architecture firm Perkins+Will.  Their office renovation was the first LEED Platinum certified project in Washington State.  In addition to operable windows, there are other common sense features such as lots of white paint to enhance natural daylighting, systems that turn the lights off when they aren’t needed, and manual shades to block the late afternoon sun.  Overall, it is a very comfortable space to be in.

It says a lot that we have to give awards for building design that is noteworthy only because it not completely stupid like the status quo.

12 Responses to “Broken Windows”

  1. bbot

    LEED isn’t an award, it’s a certification, which, in business-speak, means “something that costs money”. LEED Platinum probably cost them 10 or 20 thousand dollars; and that’s just for the cert, not counting the infrastructure upgrades.

    Efficiency upgrades are typically a tradeoff between upfront costs and long term savings. Lights in perimeter offices that dim during the day could cost two or three times as much as conventional lighting, since it requires light sensors, dimmable ballasts and bulbs, dimmer controls so the occupant can override the light sensor, building management system integration, etc.

  2. Finishtag

    I LIKE the windows at Perkins+Will and only wish the building OWNER would upgrade the rest of the windows to match. This post is quick on the heels of the photo of Chase with the lights on. Perkins+Will doesn’t have that problem. My cursory experience with the space showed a really pleasant, quiet, comfortable, bright office.

  3. MikeP

    bbot, a BMW costs two to three times as much as Hyundai, but I see plenty of those driving around. Why is it that we have no problem making investments in quality products for individual consumption, but when it comes to any sort of collective endeavor (even a private business!) the lowest common denominator rules the day? I would happily sacrifice a bit of income or profit to work in an office that reflected my values (and, dare I say, good taste). You can do things cheaper, sure, but you’re worth it, aren’t you?

  4. Turner Redgrave


    Problem with your logic is Hyundai was recently awarded the year in 2008. So higher price doesn’t always mean quality nor does High Design mean quality.

    Still, your point is Perkins did a great job and had the budget to do it in. The real question bbot is getting at is how do can we all afford to be LEED Platinum?

    At any rate, the window layout is horribly out of proportion with the rest of the building windows and scale. They emphasize horizontal while the rest of the building stresses vertical. The horizontal muntins are incredible thick to be seen from the distant of the photograph. This could have been reduced if they thickened the middle vertical muntin to be load bearing allowing for the reduction of the stress on the muntin above the operational windows.

  5. dan cortland

    The window layout might have been marginally entertaining if they’d made the operable rows vertical to mimic the reflections of the opposite building in the windows on the upper floors.

    Those muntins look like extras from down the street. The unfortunate aesthetic consequences of greening up the building have been exvernalized to the public.

  6. Matt the Engineer

    [bbot] Your point about LEED is fair – there’s a wide complaint about how much LEED certification costs. It would be a far better deal to design to LEED standards without the certification, and spend the extra money on further efficiency improvements. But then, in the realm of corporate business, that LEED plaque is often more important than meeting LEED’s intent. This will increase the value of your office in future sale, and will be a selling point to clients and green-minded employees.

    Your point about saving money by cutting out lighting controls, however, is just wrong headed. Lighting is the #1 source of potential energy savings in most buildings and you can often count the number of years to payback on a single hand. There was a reason that most buildings spent the money to convert from T-12 to T-8 lighting a decade ago – doing so, whatever the upfront cost, was free money two years in the future onward.

  7. dan bertolet

    LEED is less expensive than many people think. The total hard and soft costs of achieving a LEED Silver certification for the Broadway Crossing affordable project at Broadway and Pine was one percent of the total project cost. With about $100,000 in incentives from various City of Seattle and utility programs, the extra cost of LEED dropped to less than 0.1% of total project cost. The energy and water savings more than offset this remaining cost in less than a year of building operation, and after that would begin reducing the overall cost of the building compared to a typical building. In other words, designing for LEED actually made the building less expensive, not more.

    Details here, page 37 (pdf):

  8. dang

    The building industry has gotten considerably more sophisticated over the last dozen years. And the administrative costs associated with LEED certification aside, the actual building costs can be quite minimal. LEED gets expensive when it is treated like an additive feature–lacking strong backing from the client or a decisive strategy early on in the process, or even deciding to “do LEED” in the latter stages of design. I’ve even had clients “decide” during construction, which becomes hugely cost-additive. Davis Langdon has conducted a couple of studies analyzing the building costs associated with LEED called Cost of Green Revisited. This analysis focuses on institutional buildings–anyone know of something comparable for housing?

  9. dan cortland

    dang, see dan b’s link.

  10. dang

    Thanks, but I was hoping for something with a larger sampling for housing–DanB’s link focused largely on Broadway Crossing’s costs. It is great to have a local example to point to, but it’s equally problematic to try to convince people with only one example.

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