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February 24, 2023

First Place — Commercial: Dexter Yard

Photo from MIW
For Dexter Yard, architects and the developer wanted to “un-office an office building” and create a sense of meaningful place.

Location: Seattle

Mason contractor: J&S Masonry

Architect: SkB Architects

General contractor: Turner Construction Co.

Masonry suppliers: Mutual Materials, Endicott Brick, Fireclay Tile, Northwest Precast

From the beginning, architects and the developer wanted to “un-office an office building” and create a sense of meaningful place. This project is two separate office towers that share a ground plane and a central pedestrian pass through of circulation flanked by small, curated retail shops that complement each other and create a unique 18-hour experience to become a desired destination for tenants, the community, the neighborhood and the public.

To produce low-cost buildings, the warehouse design was repetitive bays that allowed materials to enter at one end and emerge as finished goods at the other. To break down the monotony of the large and long exterior building facades, detail was typically achieved by the craft of the builders and artisans. Nowhere was it more emphasized than through the masons’ skills of installing brick. Sills and headers were opportunities to express the masonry craft and celebrate the inherent properties and strength of the brick. Fields of brick would be reoriented into various patterns of running bonds and herringbones to bring a visual interest and detail.

During the early design of Dexter Yard, it was clear “the podiums had to be brick.” Dexter Yard’s ground plane is inspired by the art of brick. It resonates with the historical use of brick from the site’s past. To design the typical glass, slick and polished office building would have been a soulless response and disingenuous to the site’s history. The masons at Dexter Yard understood the design intent and seized on the opportunity to truly celebrate the qualities of brick and showcase their craft, creativity and care in the installation.

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