AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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The Terry Thomas

This is a photograph from Thomas Street at dusk showing the sleek new South Lake Union streetcar and the expressive elevations of the Terry Thomas building.
Photo credit: Gabe Hanson


  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Building type(s): Commercial office, Retail
  • New construction
  • 40,500 ft2 (3,760 m2)
  • Project scope: 4-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed April 2008
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-CI, v.2 --Level: Platinum (43 points)
    Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-CS 2.0--Level: Gold (39 points)

The Terry Thomas was designed to provide a healthy and creative work environment that would illustrate the possibilities of sustainable design. The project was driven by a future tenant who needed a new office space to accommodate a rapidly expanding architectural practice. The firm wanted to remain in the same neighborhood where it had operated for seventeen years, yet in a building that would exemplify commitment to sustainable design.

The Terry Thomas is located in Seattle's up-and-coming South Lake Union neighborhood, adjacent to downtown. This mixed-use neighborhood, formerly a light industrial area, includes parks, multi-family residences, offices and light industrial buildings. Located along a new streetcar line, the building is well served by a variety of transportation options and is within walking distance of numerous amenities.

The building has 37,434 ft2 of office space on four floors, with shower facilities to encourage bicycle use. The ground level features 3,032 ft2 of retail and restaurant space, and a central courtyard that provides a gathering space. Parking for cars and bicycles is available on two levels of an underground garage totaling 24,596 ft2. An architectural firm, a marketing firm, and a real estate firm occupy the office space in the building.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2009. It was submitted by Weber Thompson in Seattle, Washington. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

An office environment can have a tremendous impact on behavior. The challenge in designing The Terry Thomas was to design a place-specific, environmentally responsible workplace that would enhance occupant health and productivity while reflecting the eco-friendly ethos of its inhabitants. Reducing the building's dependence on energy was a high priority. The benefits and future payback had to be defined in order to prove that the additional costs of this atypical office building would be returned in the future, ensuring that the building would be viable for leasing.

The project team began the design process by conducting a survey among the staff of the primary tenants about their priorities for their new workspace. The most frequently requested features were daylighting, natural ventilation, and improved community meeting spaces. The designers responded by creating a holistic design concept tailored to its specific site and made daylight, ventilation, and reinforced community connections a priority.

As both the designers and inhabitants of The Terry Thomas, the occupants now enjoy the benefits of strong natural and cultural connections while simultaneously increasing their productivity potential. In the process, they have created an experimental and educational tool for promoting sustainable design.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Thomas & Terry LLC, Corporation, for-profit
  • Occupants: Corporation, for-profit
  • Typically occupied by 170 people, 40 hours per person per week
  • Expected Building Service Life: 100 years

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Office (50%), Structured parking (30%), Circulation (8%), Conference (8%), Restrooms (2%), Lobby/reception (2%)

Outdoor Spaces:

Patio/hardscape (5%)


Integrated team, Design charrette, Training, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Contracting, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Adaptable design, Durability, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Certified wood, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Thermal comfort, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 4/13/2009

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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