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April 5, 2019

Suspended Ceiling/Commercial • Washington

Photo by Sean Airhart/NBBJ
The remodeled ceiling at Two Union Square Lobby uses 2,833 unique planks from wood sources in Italy.

Two Union Square Lobby Renovation

Location: Seattle

Contractor: Firstline Systems

Architect: NBBJ

Team: Armstrong World Industries, GTS Interior Supply, Rulon International

In 1989, when Two Union Square first opened, it was heralded as "...a distinctly expressionist, Northwest regionalist design,” where the uniqueness of the region and economy drove the building's architecture, materials and experiences.

For example, the front desk and lobby directory were fabricated in the shape of an airplane wing. Some forms were more suggestive, such as the way the north facade of the building curves gracefully in the form of an airfoil. The bright white penthouse at the top of the building is a light-hearted reference to the snow-capped mountains surrounding the city.

Two Union has aged gracefully and remains the premier address for hundreds of local and national businesses. However, in 2015, ownership decided it would undertake a series of modernization initiatives in One and Two Union Square.

The project was intended to enliven existing spaces and generate additional experiences for tenants. The goal was to offer a variety of comfortable, upbeat and collaborative settings where tenants could talk, sip coffee, team-up and work.

The ceiling is a custom creation that relied on computational design, high-tech fabrication techniques and skilled local craftsmen to install the completed piece. Rulon International, located in Florida, manufactured the ceiling's 2,833 unique planks from wood sources in Italy. The planks, ranging in length from 3 to 12 feet long, were installed by Firstline Systems’ craftsmen in a tongue-in-groove manner to form the 30- to 140-foot-long beams, which are suspended by cables from one end of the lobby to the other. The design and structure are meant to last for 30 years.

Juror's comment: “This is an amazing ceiling! The flow of the ceiling and precision of the installation was highly technical yet artistic.”

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