Washington Iron Works
Facilities Office Building
Originally conceived of as a metal shed, the architect worked with the client to realize a cost-effective and easy-to-construct solution, which embodies the spirit of the iron works’ true passion: steel fabrication.
The project is conceived of as a long two-story bar of 8,432 SF. The bar lines the south side of an existing fabrication building and is defined by a floating Corten steel bar over cement plaster wall panels and full height butt-jointed glass panels. The bar is oriented so that the ‘front’ end of the new building is in close proximity to the existing administration building, and also works to define the client’s brand to visitors as they enter the site. The building is organized around a central exterior core, and has four main areas: receiving is located near the site entry and at grade to process trucks coming onto the site; above that is the main conference room and accounting; at the east end of the second level is the drafting department; and a large lunchroom with multi-slide doors sits at grade near where the workers come off the steel fabrication line. The sliding doors allow workers to open the lunchroom and take advantage of the mild climate, and have larger gatherings that overflow into the adjacent site area.
Site constraints generally defined a limited footprint on which the building could sit. Bound on four sides by buildings, parking aisles and vehicular access ways, the team chose to develop an efficient two-story structure oriented to the south and west.
This project capped a 40-year relationship between the two companies as the architect’s CEO was the production architect on the original office building completed in 1976.
The design is comprised of raw building material assemblies, which engage each other, but also function in specific ways to define the use while enhancing the user experience:
- A long, sandblasted CMU wall revealing the aggregate of the block not only provides a subdued datum against which the bar can rest, but also acts as a 3-hour fire barrier for the existing large fabrication shed
- The west end of the corten bar acts as both a brise-soleil for the conference room’s southwest-facing glass, but also structural braces the end of the CMU fire barrier wall
- The finishes are simple and reflect the raw nature of the iron trade while blending in seamlessly into the materials of the site. The relatively small size of the project also meant that we could capitalize on revealing the efforts of the workers who not only work at the iron works, but also fabricated and erected the steel for the building in less than 2 days. Structural primary members, cross bracing, and the CMU are exposed in the spaces. All structural steel, handrails, and guardrails, fabricated by the client’s iron workers, are left exposed with markings illustrating the fabrication process, captured in time. The fabricators who created the structure can see the recording of their efforts in the building itself.