TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Sep. 2, 2009 at 12:30pm

PHOTOS -- Pacific Plaza Tour

Inside/Outside Tacoma's innovative downtown high-rise

I received an invitation last week from the folks at BLRB Architects to tour their new headquarters in the recently renovated Pacific Plaza Building (1250 Pacific Ave.).

As you may recall, the building was formerly known as Park Plaza South -- a crumbling, decades-old building that fit right in with the Luzon Building across the street. Not anymore. After my 90-minute tour of BLRB's seventh-floor offices, the vacant eighth floor, the not-creepy-anymore garage and stairwell, and the green roof, I have to say this building is impressive. Visitors will require a good deal of convincing to believe the old garage once occupied this spot. It will require even more convincing to believe the parking garage was never torn down. What stands there today seems more like a magic trick than a $30 million building renovation.

A few notes from the tour:

  • Two tenants have signed leases for space on the eighth floor: (a.) an office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (13,000 square feet) and (b.) Grantmaker Consultants (3,000 square feet). BLRB (20,000 square feet) and PCS (15,000 square feet) have already moved in on the seventh floor;
  • Aspiring architects take note: BLRB has a fancy break room with a snack bar, fridge w/bottled beer, a flat screen television, and a Wii. A barbecue sits on the nearby deck;
  • In BLRB's headquarters, unique beam designs allow for fewer columns, and walls are angled in such a way to provide sweeping views inside/outside the office;
  • It's strange to look at Tacoma's skyline from behind tall wildflowers;
  • There are lots of bees on the green roof.
I wrote an article -- Web or PDF -- for  today's edition of the Tacoma Daily Index on BLRB's offices. In tomorrow's edition, we'll head upstairs and check out the rooftop garden.

***UPDATE*** Links to the follow-up feature on the rooftop garden are here and here.

The tour covered much ground. I took more photos than I could possibly fit in the print edition (or on our clunky Web site). I've decided to post photos of our tour to the TDI blog. Many thanks to BLRB's Kelie Kahler, Dave Pool, Ben Ferguson, and Thomas Bates for making the visit possible. Enjoy!

I. Welcome to BLRB Architects

BLRB Senior Associate Dave Pool provided a tour of the firm's new headquarters

Lots of space for creativity. Notice an innovative use of cellular steel beams allow for fewer view-blocking columns.

A huge conference room.

II. Let's Step Outside For Fresh Air

A two-level deck offers great views of the Foss and Mount Rainier (on a clear day). There's a barbecue tucked away back there.

The old Luzon Building across the way.

III. It's Break Time

Snack bar? Check. Fridge? Check. Wii? Check.

IV. Heading Upstairs To The Soon-To-Be-Leased 8th Floor

The DEA and Grantmakers Consultants will move in here.

Skylights provide natural light.

V. Let's Head Upstairs To The Rooftop Garden

Wells Fargo Tower and the skyline from behind the wild flowers and atop Pacific Plaza.

BLRB Associate Ben Ferguson is the go-to guy for questions about the green roof, including an innovative irrigation system (below).

Here is the view from TDI 'world headquarters.'

VI. A Final Post-Tour Shot of Pacific Plaza

comments [10]  |  posted under Downtown, Pacific Plaza, Tacoma


by fredo on 9/2/2009 @ 12:54pm
If that flatscreen is mounted in a common hallway I bet it disappears.

by Erik on 9/2/2009 @ 1:04pm
Wow. Cool.

Once again great coverage and Kudos to the TDI film and reporter crew.

I used to park on the top of this parking garage. A great improvement.

How much office space remains empty?

Are there any retail tenants who have signed up yet?

The green roof looks great like Wagner's roof

by tacoma1 on 9/2/2009 @ 1:07pm
You can keep the flat screen, I have dibs on the beer in the fridge.

Very impressive building.

by morgan on 9/2/2009 @ 1:23pm
I had to read the text twice - I thought it said lots of beers on the roof!

Man! What nice plush offices! I've been wanting to see the inside - thanks for the tour Todd!

by Ben Ferguson on 9/2/2009 @ 1:52pm
Erik, some answers to questions:
+/- 18,000 SF Class-A available on the 8th floor
No signed leases for retail yet

I think I'd like to take a nap on Wagner's roof.

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 9/2/2009 @ 4:04pm
I have been informed a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Tues., Sept. 22 @ 10:00 a.m. in the main lobby off Pacific Avenue.

by Nick on 9/3/2009 @ 9:03am
Ah crap! We're no longer the only employer downtown with a Wii?! I can only hope this escalates into all out employee-downtime-entertainment warfare!

by Erik on 9/15/2009 @ 12:46pm
More love for the Park Plaza:

Tacoma Building Facelift Includes Green Roof
By Emily Knudsen
Published: September 15, 2009

When local developers decided to convert Tacoma’s old Park Plaza South parking garage structure into a new retail-office building—dubbed Pacific Plaza Building—they decided it was a unique opportunity to showcase a number of green building features, including a first-of-its-kind rooftop garden. They discovered that adding the green roof did not only benefit the building owners, but also improves the entire downtown area.

BLRB Architects and PCS Structural Solutions, who will house their offices in the new building, paired up with the City of Tacoma for this innovative reuse project. Though 78 percent of the original structure remains intact (and almost all waste was reused or recycled), the resulting building seems like a complete transformation to passers-by. Todd Matthews, editor of the Tacoma Daily Index, noted that while it may be difficult to believe that the Park Plaza South garage was replaced by something much more visually pleasing, “it will require even more convincing to believe the parking garage was never torn down.”

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/15/2009 @ 3:05pm
That turned out freaking nice. I hope the city can at least match (if not exceed) the success here when the PPN gets it's turn.

Maybe going to 8 stories was for financial or structural reasons, but I think the building would be all the much sweeter had they gone like 20+ stories.

by islander on 10/29/2009 @ 9:53am
Beautiful! I wonder who the Landscape Architect was for the green roof. Did BLRB design the whole thing?


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