Winner: 2010 Construction Excellence Awards: Gold (Boutique, West Region)

Reclaimed Wood: Urban Renewal

The Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma, Washington was designed not only as a center for environmental research, but as a leading example of the green building revolution. The 51,205 square-foot facility, built next to the historic but environmentally troubled Thea Foss Waterway, is a story of redemption. The building is the new home for the city's Environmental Services Division labs and offices, as well as research labs for the University of Washington Tacoma, and an office for the Puget Sound Partnership.

Once part of a thriving industrial center, the Thea Foss Waterway suffered from decades of neglect and industrial pollution, and was all but abandoned by the time it was declared one of Washington State's first Superfund sites in 1983. The Center for Urban Waters Building, for which the City of Tacoma is pursuing LEED Platinum certification, is part of a campaign to reverse the area's environmental record, providing a truly green location for cutting edge environmental research. Part of the building's story of redemption is the use of wood reclaimed from an old dock at the job site. The entry lobby features our grilles and linears, as well as millwork re-milled from the 100 foot long Douglas Fir timbers.

9Wood first got involved in fall of 2008 through Terra Mai — a reclaimed wood milling specialist, — and their work with Perkins+Will. Terra Mai worked alongside our local rep, Jerald Schwarz of Schwarz & Associates, to secure a joint specification. The proprietary spec was an advantage through the bidding and negotiation process.

Designing a ceiling using reclaimed wood presented certain unique challenges. Urban Waters required close coordination between the architect and contractors to dial in the allowable “character" of the finished wood (knot sizes, fastener holes, pitch pockets, etc). The carefully monitored hands-on approach, however, produced an interior with a rich story and finish. The atrium even has a kiosk that tells the story of the building's construction process and LEED attributes.

Terra Mai took the lead as the “one stop shop" for the removal of foreign matter of reclaimed wood, and re-milling to net sizes for the panels, including thick veneers for acoustic plank. We received the re-milled material and fabricated the panels.

Although most of the foreign matter was removed, our production team was more than surprised to find an embedded copper bullet at a chop saw! Apparently, the metal detectors weren't 100% “bullet-proof."

This is a project that showcases what can be achieved with a high level of collaboration between the architects, contractors, installers and manufacturers throughout the process.

Reclaimed wood is a growing segment of our industry. It is true the extra coordination requires a premium, however each reclaimed wood project requires a different approach and some are more involved than others. 9Wood is happy to be able to offer the gamut of support and coordination needed to deliver these truly special projects like Urban Waters.

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