Notable architects, scholars, historians join international letter-writing campaign seeking appropriate redevelopment
“Unquestionably the finest corporate campus in the world.”
“Merits National Historic Landmark status.”
“Loss of the building’s relation to the landscape would be catastrophic."
These and other accolades from notable landscape architects, architects, historians, scholars and others have poured in as part of The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s campaign to halt inappropriate development on the historic Weyerhaeuser Campus.
The letters detail what makes the campus is so historically and culturally significant and why the 1.5 million square feet of warehouses proposed by Federal Way Campus (Industrial Realty Group) are totally inappropriate.
“There are a number of ways to accommodate the proposed buildings, but none of these alternatives have been explored by the developer,” wrote Peter Walker, the original landscape designer of the campus.
“If the current proposed development is implemented, the existing headquarters’ composition will not survive,” he wrote. “It seems a shame that such an important artifact, representative of the best of its era, long recognized and honored, would be lost to its neighborhood, state, and country by destruction in such a careless and undignified way.”
In his letter, Craig Hartman, a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (the original campus architects), advocated for “a more visionary development.”
“…The redevelopment proposal for this bucolic, environmentally sensitive site is an industrial warehouse center – a quick way to monetize the site and perhaps the lowest common denominator in real estate development,” Hartman wrote.
“… Why not densify the site with compact multifamily housing nestled carefully within the forest along with appropriately scaled workspaces and amenities that would work in harmony with the existing landmark office building, creating a walk-to-work environment? That kind of thinking would leverage and enhance the value of the existing architecture and site while benefiting the local community.”
“If the current ownership is unwilling or unable to undertake a more fitting and harmonious development plan or to sell the site to another entity who would, I hope you will use your authority to bring the developer together with the community and create a much less impactful plan than that which is currently on the table.”
These letters have landed in the inboxes Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Commander Col. Alexander Bullock.
The City of Federal Way has land-use permitting authority for the five warehouses, while the USACE must issue permits to allow filling of wetlands (considered waters of the U.S.) for construction of the warehouses.
The City of Federal Way has approved the first building, Warehouse A, which is now going through the building permit process. IRG’s second The second building, Warehouse B, appears close to receiving land-use approval, while the three-warehouse development on the north end of the campus is still under review by the city Community Development Department.
The Corps of Engineers is reviewing two permits—one for Warehouses A/B, which are adjacent, and a separate permit for the three-warehouse development on the north end of the campus. As part of its wetlands permit review, the Corps must conduct a review of historic/cultural resources adversely affected by its permit action. That review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, is conducted to determine ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse impacts.
Save Weyerhaeuser Campus is among the official consulting parties that meet biweekly to discuss resolution of adverse impacts. Learn more here.