Center for Urban Waters

Tacoma, WA



Sustainable Design


Civil Engineering

Structural Engineering


LEED Platinum

Cisterns for rain water collection

Rain garden

Green roof

Permeable pavers

The City of Tacoma's Center for Urban Waters is the new home for the City's Environmental Services Division, a research lab for University of Washington Tacoma, and an office for the Puget Sound Partnership.

This 56,000-square-foot office and laboratory building is sited on a brownfield on the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway. The LEED Platinum building is a model for sustainability featuring a low impact development site layout, raingardens, green roof and extensive daylighting.

AHBL's civil engineers coordinated with the design team to incorporate green stormwater strategies to mitigate the impact of runoff associated with the development of the site. The site’s parking area, walkways, and esplanade were constructed with a combination of permeable grid pavers and grass pave to promote stormwater infiltration. A central rain garden, which AHBL designed in close conjunction with the landscape architect, utilizes infiltration to reduce runoff to the city’s storm system and provides treatment by filtering it through the soil and vegetation. Runoff from the green roof and reject water from the lab is collected in two 36,000-gallon cisterns to irrigate the site and as grey water inside the building to flush toilets. In addition to reducing site runoff, the cisterns reduced the demand on municipal water by 46%.

The natural ventilation and architectural design features resulted in many areas of architecturally exposed steel structure. AHBL’s structural engineers used Revit, a Building Information Modeling (BIM) program, to facilitate structural framing analysis iterations and coordinate the structural framing system requirements with the architect for conflict resolution. AHBL's structural engineers also worked closely with the architect and landscape architect on the green roof design to provide for additional loading capacity.