A Fight to Save a Corporate Campus Intertwined With Nature
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A Fight to Save a Corporate Campus Intertwined With Nature

There are often protests over proposals to demolish or even replace historic buildings. Landscaping hazards are usually given little attention.

But it is turning into a Seattle suburb, where a developer has plans to build on a corporate campus that George H.W. Weyerheuser created it in the late 1960s for his family’s wood and wood products company.

The site, which was annexed to the City of Federal Way in 1994, was hailed as a pioneering route for buildings and landscapes. Today, it is mired in controversy over plans to build large-scale warehouses, which opponents say will disrupt the balance with nature but that the new owner of the property says that the construction of headquarters and maintenance of the grounds Must pay for

In the decades following World War II, companies left crowded cities to erect jewel-box buildings on pristine areas of lawns in the suburbs. But the president and chief executive of his company, Mr. Vierheuser, wanted its headquarters to be mixed with nature rather than standing outside.

The campus, designed by the architect Edward Charles Bassett And landscape architects Peter walker, Built a low-slung building in a meadow among the forest hills. The ivy-covered terraces at the front of the building were led up to a lake, and the sidewalks wound through the trees. Members of the public were allowed into the complex, which became a popular place for kite flying, dog walking and birthing.

It is time for a change in the post office suburban corporate headquarters, like the Virheuser campus. Prior to the epidemic, many properties were already being sold and in some cases Remodeling for new uses, Often because the original owners placed bets and returned to the cities – places considered more attractive to young, talented workers who hoped to attract them. The cost of maintaining large campuses was another factor. Still, the majority of office space in the United States remains in the suburb.

Ian Anderson, senior director of research and analysis at real estate services firm CBRE, said the epidemic had not hit the office market in urban areas. But the success of remote work has questioned the need for large central offices where employees gather every day.

Amidst the upheaval, conservationists, historians and others are raising alarm about risking corporate campuses. And matters raise questions on how to manage change on these sites and who is responsible for preserving them

Elsewhere, sites have deteriorated as companies that made them go out of business or merge with others.

Bell Labs – A 1962 research facility designed by Sarin at an oval complex in Holmdel in 1962 was also closed and demolished. But former employees and others rallied to save the two million-square-foot building. now it’s A mixed-use project that serves as the city center.

But the conversion of Bell Labs, which oversees Somerset Development, involved a campus of more than 200 acres. Somerset sold the land to homebuilder Toll Brothers, creating townhouses and villas.

“In conservation, we gravitate to buildings,” said Liz Waytkus, executive director Docomo us, Which focuses on modern design. “It is hard to advocate for the public, even if the public has more involvement with them.”

It was clear when PepsiCo closed Sculpture garden Purchase your campus, NY Garden, which The works of Alexander Calder and Alberto Giaometti are, Attracted more than 100,000 visitors annually, but was closed in 2012 to renovate 1967 buildings. After the renovations, PepsiCo did not immediately reopen the garden, citing security concerns, which increased resentment. The company eventually let the public back, but on a limited basis.

The Weyerhaeuser campus, which opened in 1971, was one of the first large-scale suburban corporate headquarters on the West Coast. Over time, the company added features to the site: A rhododendron garden And A Bonsai Museum At the south end, a technical center in the north.

In 2016, the company Moved to seattle And sold 425 acres for about $ 70 million to Industrial Realty Group, a Los Angeles-based firm that specializes in adaptive reuse projects.

Industrial Realty wants to make good on its investment. It changed the name of the campus and sold some land Woodbridge Corporate Park And has been Marketing the five-storey headquarters building – An early example of an open-plan workplace and as innovative inside as it was on the outside – for future office tenants.

But Industrial Realty protested with plans to build a fish plant in a wooden parcel near headquarters. Local residents filled the meetings and the deal finally ended.

Industrial Realty has obtained approval for a 226,000-square-foot warehouse on the site. And now the company is proposing to erect three more buildings near another warehouse and technical center next to it – the plan is to “turn a historic, iconic property into an industrial area,” chairman of the nonprofit group Lori Sechrist said Save the Weirheuser Campus.

Advocacy groups first tried to stop the development, citing concerns about environmental damage, traffic and damage to the historic site. Financial contributors to save Weyerheuser include Mr. Weyerheuser, who is no longer involved in the company.

“Penny-ante proposal,” 94-year-old Mr. Warehasser said of the planned buildings.

But Dana A., executive vice president at Industrial Realty. Ostenson said the development plans were responsible. “We are interested in building the campus and above, which will allow the support of the headquarters building,” he said. Mr. Ostenson said the new buildings would be fond of trees.

Industrial Realty Warehouses, which will bring employment and tax revenue, should also include supporters Local chamber of commerce.

State and national organizations have joined Save Weeraheuser in asking Industrial Realty to reduce its footprint. Cultural Landscape Foundation, an education and advocacy group, started A letter-writing campaign that has brought innocent arguments. Washington Trust nominates campus for Historic Trust Of national trust Annual list of distressed places.

Some buildings have been proposed for wetland areas, indicating a review by the Army Corps of Engineers. And because the complex is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Sites, Conservation Officers Participating in Review To help find ways to avoid or minimize “adverse effects”.

Also monitoring the process is the Puyallup tribe, whose ancestral land resides on the premises and whose reservation is nearby. Puallup has “concerns about environmental and cultural resource impacts”, tribe spokesman Michael Thompson said.

Industrial Realty is moving forward and plans to erect the buildings on the imagination, Mr. Ostenson said. The company is talking about leasing biotech and other companies, but did not rule out that the buildings have become distribution centers.

Despite the end uses, opponents believe that the new development will simply cut off much larger space from the slit space.

Landscape architect Mr. Walker designed other major commissions, such as the 9/11 Memorial in New York. Now 88, he is among those who have urged Industrial Realty to call the complex “an endangered species”, within the framework of an early master plan of development designed for Weyerheuser.



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