By Marijana Misic

In 2017, the University of Washington Bothell (UWB) and Cascadia College engaged Mahlum to lead their Campus Master Plan (CMP) in which a bold vision for the future development of their co-located Bothell campus was established. A critical component of the campus vision was to redevelop Husky Village, a 1980s-era apartment complex on a 4.4-acre site that had been repurposed into student residences a decade earlier.

The University’s desire to create a residential campus experience for its first year through upper-class students has resulted in the ~305,000 GSF Husky Village Redevelopment project. Currently under phased construction, the project consists of three, six-story residence halls that will hold 1,055 new student beds, and a separate two-level cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure that will serve as a dedicated dining hall for the residents as well as the broader campus community.

To achieve timely project delivery, UWB created a new form of partnership for the campus — a ground lease agreement between themselves and Capstone Development Partners (CDP). CDP is developing the project, and its affiliate Capstone Management Partners will operate and maintain the four-building facility for up to 70 years. The Design-Build team of Andersen Construction and Mahlum joined Capstone to realize this $160M project, scheduled for phased completion by June 2023 and August 2024.

Those of us in the AEC industry know that projects need to be completed “on time and on budget.” This decree became a little less predictable during the pandemic, which overlapped with the start of project design. Due to nationwide price escalations and material shortages, the Design-Build team had to make difficult choices to uphold design integrity while fulfilling the project mission of “maintaining well-designed yet efficient buildings delivered at a price that will ensure affordable units for the students.”

The project schedule also hinged on a timely permit review process. The City of Bothell’s significant contribution to keep the review cycles on schedule was a benefit to all, making the planned construction start in December 2021 a reality. But then the team hit an unforeseen obstacle — the Seattle Teamsters strike which halted concrete manufacturing and delivery. While we waited for the conclusion of strike negotiations, the Construction Team kept their focus on demolition completion, site clearing, and preparation, while the Design Team expedited shop drawings and submittal reviews. The delay caused by the strike ended up benefiting the project by allowing for a more thorough drawings review, which in turn minimized errors and rework later during construction.

Even though the construction start was delayed from Winter 2021 to Spring 2022, the Design-Build team adopted an attitude of “One Team One Dream” — working together to manage and maintain the overall schedule, with construction slated to be completed on time.

This project would not have been possible without the incredible work from the project team:

Developer: Capstone Development Partners
Contractor: Andersen Construction
Architect/Interiors: Mahlum
Landscape: Walker Macy
Civil Engineer: OTAK
Structural Engineer: KPFF
Energy/LEED: Rushing Company
Building Envelope: Morrison Hershfield
Acoustics: A3 Acoustics
Accessibility: Studio Pacifica
Mechanical and Plumbing Engineer: Auburn Mechanical
Electrical: Berg Electric
Fire Suppression: Western States Fire Protection
Surveyor: David Evans and Associates

By Jeff Goldblatt and Katie Felver

Widely accepted by the global scientific community, our planet is approaching a “tipping point” of irreversible climate change. We are seeing this evidence with the ever-increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters having catastrophic impacts. Scientific research has linked carbon emissions as a fundamental catalyst of climate change. While there are metrics to help set goals towards carbon reduction in many industries, including our own, one thing is for certain – we need to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere as quickly as possible.

Within the design and construction industry, decades of research and development have gone into current energy efficiency standards. These standards generally focus on energy consumption and carbon emissions of buildings over the course of a building’s life, known as operational carbon. However, there is a significant portion of the carbon emission story that is missing which is known as embodied carbon.

Defined as “the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials,” embodied carbon emissions will be responsible for almost half of all new construction between now and 2050. Embodied carbon is locked into place as soon as the building is built and therefore, should be factored into the design and construction carbon reduction mindset.

Tracking and reducing embodied carbon emissions is new to most mainstream architectural design practices. For carbon data to be accurate, it often needs to come from manufacturers, and obtaining this data can sometimes be wrought with obstacles. Additionally, the new tools being used to test and quantify the carbon impacts of our designs depend on data that can typically be more generic than is helpful. The good news is that certified transparency documentation from product manufacturers is growing by the day, and we believe carbon tracking and reporting will soon become an industry standard practice.


In 2009, Mahlum signed the AIA 2030 Commitment, pledging to prioritize energy performance in pursuit of carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030. When we moved from our previous Portland office to a new space in 2019, we had committed to designing a net zero embodied carbon office. We knew our new office had to live up to our commitment of creating a carbon neutral future so we could be more honest advocates to ourselves, and the clients we serve.

Architect Carl Elefante coined the phrase, “the greenest building is… the one that is already built.” Keeping this in mind while searching for our new office location, Mahlum chose to move into 7,400 SF of what was once a metal stamping facility inside a 1939 warehouse building, located in Portland’s Central Eastside. Eventually renamed Custom Blocks Studio, the industrial aesthetic of exposed wood beams and steel structure inspired the team, seeing potential design benefits and carbon reduction opportunities.

Using the web-based tool Build Carbon Neutral, the team set out to establish an overall “embodied carbon budget” for the project. We began by calculating for a like-sized, new office construction project, which Build Carbon Neutral determined to be 195 metric tons of CO2. Wanting to understand what the carbon savings could be for a renovation (instead of building new), we cut the new construction number in half and landed on 97.5 metric tons of CO2 as our reduced embodied carbon budget target.

During design documentation and construction, we continually referenced that carbon budget target of 97.5 against subsequently more developed and robust Tally Whole Building Life Cycle Analysis analytics. A detailed embodied carbon analysis was performed, using the Tally software plug-in for Revit (our building information modeling program), allowing us to quantify life-cycle impacts of materials we designed for with material take-off quantities directly from the 3D Revit model.


Throughout design and construction, the team endeavored to balance carbon reductions with other components such as material health and local sourcing. Overarching project goals were to: Use less stuff, use better stuff, and offset the rest.

The aerial rendering of our new office space below illustrates some of our strategies:

Taking a whole building approach to our analysis, the team evaluated the embodied carbon footprint over a 50-year span of the building’s life – known as a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). We took a conservative approach to material replacement and “service life” assumptions, in part because we knew we weren’t able to quantify some of the materials within the casework, floor base, furniture, and/or equipment. Thus, the cradle-to-grave approach was chosen to reflect anticipated impacts of interior finishes more accurately over time.

Having spent over 20 years in our previous office, we were able to benchmark service life assumptions against our past operations and maintenance. We understand that LCA by its very nature is both imprecise and rapidly evolving, therefore our design team made conservative assumptions to ensure our accounting was representative of the finished product.



Research and analysis enabled us to interpret the impact our new office would have on global carbon emissions. Once the final numbers came in, we were thrilled to see all of our efforts paid off. Through rigorous design decisions, our original embodied carbon target budget of 97.5 metric tons was reduced to 74.4 metric tons of CO2 – the equivalent of 16 passenger vehicles driven for one year.

But we wanted to do more. Holding ourselves accountable for the 74.4 metric tons of CO2 we produced, we purchased equal amounts of carbon offsets with a donation to Terrapass. One of many organizations that fund large carbon emission drawdown projects, donating to Terrapass helps fund projects such as reforestation, renewable energy produced by wind power and methane capture at dairy farms, and landfill gas capture.

With the combination of rigorous design and the purchase of carbon offsets, the Custom Blocks Studio is now considered a net-zero embodied carbon office.

Building off the research that went into Custom Blocks Studio, Mahlum is now setting aggressive carbon reduction goals for all of its projects. We have begun a process that includes acquiring detailed project data, educating our staff to utilize available tools and resources, and building a database to compare and analyze all future projects to meet our AIA 2030 Commitment pledge. Firm wide benchmarks and tested carbon reduction strategies will inform our design process and ultimately help all of our clients decrease the carbon impact of their buildings to move towards a carbon neutral future.



All people deserve to make the best personal healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. Today’s Supreme Court ruling has denied millions of people in the US the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions. We believe reproductive healthcare should be accessible to everyone in order to build healthier communities.

Mahlum Stands with Women.

Learn more about the Supreme Courts overturning of Roe v Wade from the Associated Press.

By Joseph Mayo

A few years ago, several of us here at Mahlum wondered why more mass timber K-12 schools, especially larger and multi-story structures, were not being built in Washington State. Our research showed that building codes did not appear to be a major impediment, and several mass timber manufacturers were already established or had recently come on-line in the region, meaning supply was not a problem either. We had also witnessed evidence of mass timber’s environmental benefits, as well as benefits to the state’s economy and jobs. So we asked ourselves what the issues might be. Was the lack of mass timber schools related to cost? Or structural design? Or maybe the concept of multi-story, mass timber K-12 schools is just too new and therefore perceived as too risky?

To find answers to these questions, we formed an expert mass timber team comprised of Mahlum staff and consultant firms and submitted a proposal to the USDA/US Forest Service for a Wood Innovations Grant to explore the feasibility and benefits of multi-story K-12 schools. With the grant approved, we embarked on a two-year long study and wrote a report with our findings titled United States Forest Service Wood Innovation Report: Multi-Story Mass Timber K-12 Schools. Click here to download a PDF of the final report.

When we applied for the Wood Innovations Grant, our proposal was to compare a prototypical 2-3 story mass timber school to one built predominantly of structural steel (the current norm for multi-story K-12 schools in Washington). Once the grant was secured, the team dissected all aspects of the two different construction types and analyzed them in terms of design flexibility, embodied carbon, indoor environmental quality, acoustics, mechanical distribution, structural framing, sourcing, constructability, and cost.

At the heart of this report is a demonstration that the use of local, natural, carbon sequestering materials can offer a broad benefit for climate health, as well as the health of building occupants and our communities. What’s more, taking a holistic view of construction and cost shows mass timber can compete economically with other standard building materials. We hope that you will read and share this report with others.

This project would not have been possible without generous funding from the USDA/US Forest Service, as well as the incredible hard work and donated time from the project team:

Architect: Mahlum Architects
Contractor and Cost: Walsh Construction
Structural Engineer: Fast+Epp
MEP and Technology Engineer: PAE Engineers
Acoustical Engineer: Arup
Mass Timber Supplier: Vaagen Timbers
K-12 “Client”: Sequim School District

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at:


By Emma Nolan

Black United Fund of Oregon (BUF) is the longest-standing Black-led, (B)IPOC-focused Foundation statewide. From their home in Portland’s historic Alberta Neighborhood, they fulfill their mission to assist in the social and economic development of Oregon’s underserved communities and to contribute to a broader understanding of culturally diverse groups. BUF fulfills its mission through work in three central areas: post-secondary pathways for youth, grassroots and emergent leadership development, and community justice and equity initiatives. This work currently takes place both on and off-site. Their current building provides limited resources for engagement with students and non-profits. A new facility will bring those programs under the same roof and provide the opportunity to form new partnerships with like-minded organizations. These relationships will further build resilience and unity for (B)IPOC communities served by BUF as well as the greater tri-county areas.

To help envision this future, Mahlum conducted a series of workshops with BUF executive stakeholders in the spring of 2020. The goal was not just to understand the programmatic needs for a new building but more importantly, the ways in which it will celebrate the Foundation’s vision. Learning that many (B)IPOC youth do not see their futures in Portland and therefore migrate to more supportive or inclusive cities underlines the importance of BUF’s work. Although BUF has supported the futures of (B)IPOC youth for almost 40 years, it’s vital to celebrate BUF’s accomplishments and create a place for (B)IPOC youth to imagine a future in which they can grow and thrive locally.

The mural celebrating Black women of the Civil Rights located on BUF’s current building is inspired by evoking history to speak to the future. Even in the early planning stages of this project, BUF’s mural was identified as a critical element to preserve. Created in 2015, it has served as a backdrop in graduation photos for many of the students BUF has supported, as well as many various community members. Titled “A Voice to be Thankful For,” the mural is a reminder of the voices that have created real and lasting change.

Gazing back at the work and lives of historical figures such as Ruby Bridges, Angela Davis, and Maya Angelou reminds us of the equity work left to do and the impact just one person can have on their community. This mural, with women depicted in bold, eye-catching colors by local artists Eatcho and Jeremy Nichols, restores a sense of place to NE Portland and makes a powerful impression that BUF is a welcoming place ready to serve the community. (Learn more about the importance of this mural in a video produced by Vox Siren: “The Hope – Stories from the Black United Fund Mural.”)

It has been moving to imagine an architecture that is able to weave the stories we have shared into the fabric of the design. In our sessions, we’ve shared personal stories about the impact education has on our lives. Educators show us possibilities, encouraging us to challenge the status quo. We’ve talked about what makes a community. Highlighting BUF’s presence on Alberta will be a home away from home for a community that has largely been dispersed due to gentrification throughout Portland and beyond. Themes of empowerment, homecoming, engagement, and reflection emerged. These concepts will become guiding principles in the design for BUF’s future building.

The resulting facility will be an intentional community of partners, tenants, and users of the space who are committed to racial equity and social, economic, and environmental justice. From being a safe place for youth of all backgrounds, to a gathering place for collaboration among BIPOC- and female-led and -serving organizations, to a place the public can proactively help solve Portland’s myriad challenges, “Our Presence Has Power” (BUF’s motto) is truly the ethos and the driving force of this project. In addition, because the new, larger building can house more emerging and smaller nonprofits, these grassroots efforts will have new and expanded power under the supportive guidance of peers, mission-aligned partners, like-minded foundations, and others. Already dubbed the Building United Futures Complex (or B.U.F. Complex) early in the process, the complex will remain open for public use and will further grow as a symbol of a progressive, changing Portland.

As part of Mahlum’s commitment to community, it is an honor to work on this project with Black United Fund of Oregon and Adre, an equity-centered real estate development company. Mahlum shares BUF’s belief that “education is a catalyst for change” and strives to build a community where new futures can be not only imagined but realized.

Thank you to BUF for their contributions to this story. If you wish to learn more about Black United Fund of Oregon, or to volunteer, support, or donate to their organization, visit their website.

By Joseph Mayo

Young children make sense of the world by engaging with the physical environment through movement and the use of their senses. We simply refer to this as learning. However, like the work of a scientist, when children engage in play, they use touch, smell, sound, sight, and taste to experiment, discover and synthesize their encounters. Creating environments that promote these experimental and experiential activities can lead to better learning and developmental outcomes, especially for early learners. Similarly, strengthening connections with nature by utilizing natural and non-toxic materials, and incorporating other biophilic strategies, can create a supportive and sustainable learning environment for infants, toddlers, and preschool learners.

This was the central vision for the new Capitol Campus Childcare Center at the Washington State Capitol. The facility, an initiative of First Lady Trudi Inslee, is a model for nature-based early learning, returning childcare to the Capitol Campus after a 13-year absence.

First Lady Inslee explains:
“As parents and grandparents, Jay and I appreciate the importance of early learning. We have long believed quality childcare should be available and affordable to all working families. We want current and prospective employees to view our state as an employer of choice by providing close proximity of childcare to the workplace. This will not only provide convenience but will also result in greater employee productivity as parents experience the peace and security of having their children close by. Hopefully this model will be replicated by other employers in the state.”

The Capitol Childcare Center is a model for 21st century childcare facilities. Focusing on nature and health, the center will be an optimal place for our early learners to develop and experience the world.

A Green Gateway
Nature-inspired elements not only abound inside the building, but outside as well. Upon arrival, children, staff, and visitors are greeted by native shrubs, fruit trees, granite boulders, and locally harvested logs set within the landscape. A deep, protective overhang highlighted by Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir is filled with daylight and creates a warm welcome into this approximately 10,000 SF facility.

Situated at the southwest corner of the Capitol Campus, the new building creates a green gateway into the State Capitol with nearly 40 new trees and a variety of native and adapted shrubs and grasses. As an entry to the Capitol Campus, the project provides improved accessibility with widened sidewalks, curb ramps and a new pedestrian crossing at Capitol Way to better serve pedestrians traveling to the Capitol and surrounding buildings. Existing connections to the East Plaza are improved and expanded upon so that adults, as well as the children, can easily access the park-like setting and pedestrian overpass that leads to the Capitol Building. Through close integration, the building and landscape function together to strengthen the Capitol Campus and provide a stimulating, natural setting for the children occupying the Center.

Nature-Based Play
Nature-Deficit Disorder was introduced in 2005 with Richard Louv’s publication of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Richard’s work posits that human beings, especially children, are spending less time connecting to the natural and outdoor environment and this change is producing a wide range of behavioral problems and is resulting in a negative impact on childhood development. Each of the building’s six classrooms have direct access to an outdoor classroom so children can get their hands dirty and experience the outside world first-hand. Pathways, plantings, and nature-based play equipment like timber steppers, log tunnels and balance beams, boulders, hillocks, and timber stages balance discovery with development of gross motor skills, balance, and tactility. The design is a direct response to Richard’s ideas creating an opportunity for the children to connect to nature through play.

The secure, exterior spaces are planted with a variety of shrubs, grasses, and fruiting and flowering trees to stimulate the senses and attract pollinators and birds. Play structures are constructed from minimally processed natural logs and boards, with organic shapes and textures.

Deep overhangs provide shelter for outdoor activities during frequent Northwest rains, and roof scuppers highlight the path of water on the site. The roof scuppers direct rainwater into a stream before being carried away to nearby Budd Inlet, offering another way for the children to connect to their environment by tracing the path of water. The building’s overhangs protect Western Red Cedar siding, providing a natural backdrop for the learning environments.

Biophilia is defined as “a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature: a desire or tendency to commune with nature” by Merriam Webster. In 1984, Edward Wilson published a slim volume titled Biophilia. In it, Wilson proposed the term (which translates to “love of life”), to define what he observed as humans’ innate tendency to focus on living things, as opposed to the inanimate. Since then, researchers have given his intuitive idea validity through rigorous peer reviewed research. Biophilic design elements – like access and views to nature, the presence of biomorphic shapes, and natural materials – have been shown to decrease blood pressure and improve creative performance, comfort, reduce stress, and promote greater satisfaction (Tsunetsugu, Miyazaki & Sato, 2007). Terrapin’s14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” articulates and collects much of this emerging research into three distinct patterns which explore the relationships between nature, human biology, and the design of the built environment so that we may experience the human benefits of biophilia in our design applications.


Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT)
One of the ways the new facility promotes a Biophilic response is through the State of Washington’s emerging Mass Timber industry. The project’s roof is constructed from cross laminated timber (CLT), the first use of this innovative material on the Capitol Campus. CLT is large, prefabricated wood panels made of, in this case, Northwest grown Douglas Fir. This emerging high-tech timber industry is creating new, high paying jobs in rural Washington and placing a priority on harnessing sustainable material and forestry practices. Of the approximately 11,500 square feet of CLT, many of the panels used on the project are over 40-feet long and were all pre-cut to exact specifications. The structural capacity of CLT is highlighted by cantilevering the panels and creating deep, protective overhangs around the building. A self-adhered vapor barrier was pre-applied at the CLT manufacturing facility before shipping the panels to site. Despite heavy rains throughout the October installation, this protective membrane kept the panels pristine, dry and reduced construction time on-site. The CLT used on the project has a net carbon sequestration of nearly 8,500 kgCO2e – the amount of emissions generated by approximately 1,850 passenger vehicles driven for one year. This type of construction not only saves time and supports the local economy, but when left exposed as the finished ceiling in each of the classrooms can create a “comfortable” feeling documented by Tsunetsugu, Miyazaki & Saito.

Healthy Materials
In addition to the integration of CLT, the remainder of the interior prioritizes elements made of natural, non-toxic materials, as well as nature inspired colors and shapes. Children are especially susceptible to pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the environment, which can inhibit lung growth and cause other long-term health problems. Products like gypsum wall board, paint, acoustical wall panels, carpet, casework and trim makeup the vast majority of interior materials. All these materials, and more, were vetted to be either inherently non-emitting or have Greenguard Gold certification, demonstrating ultra-low VOC emissions. The selection of these materials provides enhanced indoor air quality and a healthy environment for young children.

Many of these materials are also Red List free, meaning that their manufacturing avoids harmful chemicals and compounds. Douglas Fir wood doors, frames, relites, and trim are used throughout the facility as a safe, natural material that also strengthens the biophilic response of staff, teachers, and students. Simulating patterns found in nature is another way to create a calming and healthy interior environment. Large nature-inspired area rugs that mimic the color and texture of grasses are used through the classrooms. To ensure optimal acoustical performance, natural hued sound absorbing wall panels, which double as tack boards, are also used throughout. Round suspended lights are hung from the CLT ceiling to create a pattern that emphasizes movement and visual interest. The use of cedar cladding in outdoor classrooms brings the warm, rich texture and patterning of wood to child level, again strengthening biophilia.

Carbon Draw-Down
Every manufactured building material has an inherent “carbon footprint” associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing carbon emissions in material production and transportation is a primary way the construction industry can fight climate change. The use of wood was a critical strategy in the reduction of embodied carbon (CO2) for the Center and was the optimal choice to meet Governor Inslee’s commitment to promote sustainable design practices in Washington State. Environmental impacts are reduced when using wood as compared to steel and concrete. In fact, an in-house Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study conducted by Mahlum Architects illustrated that the use of wood as the primary structural frame, in combination with other strategies reduced equivalent CO2 emissions 60 percent compared to a baseline steel frame building of identical size. All the wood framing in the project is sustainably certified, meaning harvested trees are replanted and will continue to sequester carbon from the atmosphere as they grow.

In Pursuit of Net Zero Energy
While embodied carbon is an important environmental impact, carbon emissions that occur through the building’s energy usage throughout its operational lifespan is another critical aspect of reducing the global impact of carbon emissions in the built environment. Driving down operational energy use and associated carbon emissions is a priority for the State of Washington and the Capitol Campus. Washington State Executive Order 20-01 mandates new building construction be net-zero energy when construction costs allow. Because a large percent of Western Washington’s energy grid production is from clean hydroelectric power, eliminating fossil fuels from the building reduces overall carbon emissions due to operations. The Capitol Childcare Center is 100 percent electric with a net-zero ready roof area available for future photovoltaic (PV) array. Several strategies to reduce the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of the building have been employed so that its full energy needs can be met by a future rooftop PV array. Power for the building is supplied from an off-site wind farm, but with a PV roof array the energy production will shift to on-site for net zero energy. An 88 kWh rooftop PV array is scheduled for installation beginning in mid-July 2021, fulfilling the Governor’s executive order for new construction to be net-zero energy.

To reduce heating and cooling needs, which can lead to considerable energy use and associated emissions, the building has a high performance, thermally efficient envelope. Exterior walls are framed using 2×8 wood studs, allowing more insulation than standard construction. The use of wood also reduces thermal bridging through the exterior wall assemblies. The project’s large windows not only allow ample daylight, provide visual access to nature throughout the building, and reduce the need for electrical lighting, but are made from fiberglass, one of the most thermally efficient window materials. Skylights in each classroom drive natural light deep into the classroom and provide an additional connection to the outside world, including the movement of the sun which helps children develop a sense of time while reducing the need for electric lighting. The windows and skylights serve another critical function of cooling the building during warmer weather. Each window is controlled by the Building Management System (BMS) and will open automatically depending on outside conditions to let fresh, cool air into the classrooms. The skylights are also operable, and when open, allow natural stack ventilation in the classrooms and promote natural, low-energy cooling. Ceiling fans are integrated as a final measure to keep spaces comfortable with minimal energy demands. The building’s roof is also super insulated, providing almost twice the insulation thickness of a standard code compliant roof. Together, these design strategies, combined with efficient LED lighting helps to substantially drive down energy use in the building by over 30% from a LEED baseline building. This equates to 12,805 kg CO2/yr (30,436 lbs CO2/yr) or the amount of carbon sequestered by 18 acres of forest land each year. The project is slated for completion in Summer/Fall 2021 and anticipated to achieve LEED Gold.

All spaces in the childcare facility receive 100% fresh air through the building’s ventilation system. The Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) is energy efficient due to low-velocity air movement, reduced fan loads, and smaller HVAC ducting. In addition, Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) is used to precondition in-coming fresh air by capturing waste heat and coolth as it is exhausted from the building. No air mixing occurs during this process, making it completely hygienic. Microbial contamination of ventilation air is not a concern with DOAS systems because no mixing of fresh and recirculated air occurs. This makes DOAS an excellent choice for ventilation air, especially with increased awareness of viral spread through air-born pathways.

Thanks to the vision and dedication of First Lady Trudi Inslee to support early childhood education, the Capitol Campus Childcare Center leverages a multitude of design strategies to create a diverse, healthy, and sustainable environment, both inside and out. These strategies support play, curiosity and serve as the foundation for life-long learning and growth. By achieving a pathway to net-zero energy and showcasing the benefits of cross laminated timber construction, this small but mighty addition to the Capitol Campus is an inspiring example of Washington State’s commitment to environmental stewardship, to an emerging industry, and an investment in our long-term future through early education.

Corrie Rosen has been elevated to Partner, joining Anne Schopf, David Mount, Mark Cork, and Kurt Haapala in leading the firm.

A graduate of Columbia University with a Master of Architecture degree, Corrie initially honed her architectural skills at A+I and Maya Lin Studio in New York City. She joined Mahlum in 2007 and has spent the last 14 years making a significant impact on the firm, focusing much of her efforts in promoting social justice and equity in the firm’s work.

“Corrie introduced and has led Mahlum’s Pro Bono and Commitment to Community programs, which have critically altered the trajectory of the firm’s culture and contribution to the communities we serve,” said Anne Schopf, Design Partner.

In her new role, Corrie will continue to deepen her focus on culture and community, both internally and externally, maintaining her commitment to sharing the important role of architecture and its ability to impact positive change. In Corrie’s own words, “I’ve made social outreach an integral part of my practice. I consider the built environment a laboratory – an opportunity to create stimulating new ways of learning and to empower students to effect positive change.”

The essence of Corrie’s commitment to community is demonstrated in her work with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV). Leading the firm’s efforts to connect Mahlum with non-profits in the local community, Corrie recognized an opportunity to provide the WSCADV with pro bono architectural services to create design guidelines for shelters serving women and children. The resulting interactive online resource, Building Dignity: Design Strategies for Domestic Violence Shelter, has been leveraged locally, nationally, and internationally as a tool to assist designers and organizations to create supportive and safe environments for those in crisis.

Photo of Corrie Rosen working with Margaret Hobart
Corrie Rosen collaborating on Building Dignity with Margaret Hobart (formerly with Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

The creation of Building Dignity is just one example of how Corrie believes architects can serve those who might not normally seek them out. Her determination to show how thoughtful design can help empower parents, support children’s needs, and facilitate healing, is the reason Corrie’s elevation to Partner is critical to Mahlum’s commitment to addressing environmental and social justice both in the firm’s work, and in how they do the work.

Though Corrie has worked on a variety of award-winning projects since joining the firm, some of the most notable include Nathan Hale High School Modernization in Seattle, Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma, which received the 2019 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture, and most recently, Madrona School in Edmonds, winner of A4LE’s LESolutions Planning & Design Award for New Learning Environment in 2020. Corrie has also participated in speaking engagements, focusing on inclusive design, and creating successful pro bono programs.

During her time with Mahlum, Corrie has always maintained that, for her, architecture is not just about building physical structures, it’s also about building relationships. Internally, she supports and uplifts staff, valuing each person’s personality, value, interest, and commitment that helps shape our culture as a whole. Externally, she deeply listens to clients, users, partners, contractors, and communities. It is the process that she’s passionate about; the time spent with staff, users, and clients, working together to capture ideas and create spaces that support human connections and inspire joy.

Violence and racism against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are deeply entrenched in the history of the United States.  We stand with our staff in denouncing the recent string of murders and attacks, the latest manifestation of the longstanding history of violence and hate crimes against AAPI.  

We are deeply saddened by the increased amount of anger and hostility directed against the AAPI community that has emerged during the Covid-19 outbreak and the immeasurable toll it has taken on their communities.  We understand that the struggles the AAPI communities face are bound up in a global system that perpetuates violence against all communities of color, including Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples.  

WHAT Do We Stand For?
We stand with organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta  in calling for community-centered responses to crisis, in lieu of over-policing that so often leads to criminalization of communities of color.  We are clear that the struggle for AAPI liberation is intersectional. It includes overlapping oppressions—affecting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folx, immigrants, workers, and women—all perpetuated under a system rooted in white supremacist patriarchal colonization. We stand in full solidarity with all who are exploited and oppressed under this system. This also includes white allies who understand this oppression and are actively fighting against it.   

WHAT Can You Do?  
We call on White and Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to confront anti-Asian racism within your communities. Internalized white supremacy takes many forms.  Research the Asian/AAPI plight in the U.S. and worldwide so you can also be aware of its long and fraught history.  Use the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate—not #AsianLivesMatter. Co-opting the work of Black activists undermines necessary coalition building.  

WHAT Are We Doing?  
We will take the lead from the AAPI community in calls to action, direct actions, advocacy, and education efforts. We will acknowledge their suffering and seek their perspective to understand how they are uniquely affected by white supremacist patriarchal power structures.  

We are working with our impacted staff and giving them the support they need to grieve and heal.  

We commit to lift up the voices of Asian and AAPI groups who have been in the struggle for many years by aligning our charitable contributions with our Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) principles.  

We commit to remaining vigilant. By intervening or documenting  if we witness a hate crime or see an Asian or AAPI person in distress or danger.  

As we hold each other through this period of mourning, let us also remember that in the face of violence and oppression, there has always been solidarity and resistance. Let us come together, learn from and uplift each other, and build a resilient, diverse community that includes everyone on the path to justice and liberation.  

We remain committed to advancing racial equality and living a culture of inclusion. We invite you to Stand With Us to Stop Asian Hate.  

By Kurt Haapala and Octavio Gutierrez

Mahlum’s vision of empowering healthy communities through the built environment guides our understanding and celebration of the rich diversity of the human condition. We listen for stories from students, staff, administrators, and other project stakeholders that can influence the way we craft space to be welcoming and inclusionary, as well as socially and academically supportive. Patients, nurses, doctors, and medical staff remind us of the value of daylight, views, and access to nature in shaping positive health outcomes. Our clients fuel our passion for design. They challenge us to treat every project as an opportunity to shape a better world, where justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are core values.

As a firm dedicated to promoting a deep sense of community within our work, Mahlum was humbled by the vision for transformation brought to us by our client for the Cathedral Park Cohousing community, and are honored to be collaborating with Our Home Inclusive Community Collaborative (ICC) on this project.

When we first met Our Home ICC ‘Founding Neighbor,’ Alicia DeLashmutt, she shared with us her vision for a truly supportive community called Our Home, to be located in North Portland’s Cathedral Park neighborhood and offering studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units, with modern amenities and expansive views of Forest Park, the Willamette River, and the iconic St. John’s Bridge.

Alicia’s passion and commitment to this project was inspiring and radical. As the mother of a young adult who experiences disability, she shared the story of her own journey to find a community where she felt her family, and families like hers, could thrive. She recognized that there were barriers preventing families with unique needs from finding supportive homes. Alicia then said something that really struck a chord with us: “Society has systematically segregated people into living environments based on their differing abilities and identities. This segregation is a fundamentally flawed and tragic consequence of an inability to accommodate the needs of a diverse society – be it a physical, cognitive or emotional disability; cultural, racial or ethnic difference; or economically disadvantaged situations.”

Alicia believes the true strength of a community is the measure of its diversity.

Cathedral Park Cohousing will be utilizing the cohousing development model that originated in Denmark in the late 1960’s. Cohousing is an intentional community where shared common resources are balanced with individual privacy. Investing our deep passion and commitment towards equitable design solutions, Mahlum embraced the project mission and cohousing model to embed inclusionary design strategies that support the entire community.

This project will go beyond a typical cohousing community by prioritizing accommodation. Still incorporating traditional cohousing elements like the common house, bike storage, laundry, guest facilities, and open space, the design centers the needs of a broader cross-section of society by addressing aspects of Neurodiversity, DeafSpace, Universal Design, Blind and Low Vision, Staying-in-Place, and Trauma-informed Design:

Inclusionary design strategies are seamlessly woven within the principles of cohousing, enhancing the sense of an intentionally supportive community. The creation of a front porch for individual homes allows moments of community connectivity but also supports moments of rest for all ages. Clear lines of sight support safe navigation for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and low vision community members. Clear programmatic zoning of spaces and identifiable spatial transitions aid those with neurodiversity differences to manage and control sensory levels. Windows at each individual kitchen provide views to the common open space, creating visual connectivity and a sense of comfort. Most importantly, these elements are built around shared indoor and outdoor community gathering spaces that will grow a strong and supportive community of neighbors.

We look forward to our journey with the community members of Cathedral Park Cohousing, and the realization of the vision of a truly empowered and inclusive community.

To learn more about this unique living experience, visit Cathedral Park Cohousing. You can also learn more on our website. Cathedral Park Cohousing is being developed in collaboration with Urban Development + Partners and Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative.

By Jesse Walton, Jay Hindmarsh and Anne Schopf

Following the historic 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the growing understanding of the role that the built environment has on global warming, Mahlum began in earnest to incorporate sustainable strategies into our work. That early commitment resulted in the firm being awarded two national AIA COTE Top Ten Awards for The Evergreen State College’s Seminar II Building (2005) and Lake Washington School District’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (2006). In addition, Mahlum’s Providence Newberg Medical Center became the first LEED Gold Certified Hospital in the nation (2007). All these projects looked to low energy solutions, including natural ventilation strategies for summer comfort.

Our commitment to a low-energy future deepened on May 8th, 2009 when we signed onto the newly created AIA 2030 Commitment. Mahlum made this ambitious public commitment to prioritize energy performance in pursuit of carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030 in alignment with Ed Mazria’s 2030 Challenge.

At that time the year 2030 was more than 20 years in the future and while the commitment we had signed seemed daunting, at the time we had no idea (1) how far away we were from a carbon neutral future, and (2) how to accomplish the goal. Now that we are deep into 2020 and less than 10 years away from the 2030 goal of carbon neutral buildings, we are all too aware of the actual time, dedication and means it will take to achieve this goal.

For the first five years after we signed onto the 2030 Commitment we struggled with two things. The first was the creation of our Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) which was intended to be a publicly shared document outlining the firm’s culture of sustainable design and operations. We formed various committees and circulated drafts, but with the devastation of the recession, the document sat on our server in draft form, remaining incomplete.

The second struggle was how to collect every project’s predicted Energy Use Intensity (pEUI) and what form it should take. Most of our projects at the time did not have a pEUI or a person on the team who could run an energy model to calculate the pEUI. When it was possible, we leaned on our mechanical engineers to calculate each project’s pEUI. We also asked project teams to focus on collecting the pEUI data into Access Databases and Excel Spreadsheets, which we then submitted to the AIA annually. By gathering this information, we learned that though we were reducing our average pEUI, we were not actually meeting the current target of 60%. Though disappointing, at least this data collection effort kept us honest about where we stood.

Below is our first pEUI Reduction Percentage Report to the AIA in 2011:

A renewed interest in finalizing our firm’s SAP arose and we formed the Sustainability Steering Committee (SSC), a group of architectural staff, including leadership, who met regularly and focused on the firm-wide integration of sustainable design. The SSC, with input from the entire office, took two years to finalize and publish our SAP.

In 2015 the AIA created the 2030 Design Data Exchange (DDx), an online database of all AIA 2030 Commitment signatories’ projects and their related pEUI data. This helped regularize the type of data collected and the location to collect it in. Through trial and error, we also learned that each team needed support to collect the pEUI data for the DDx on an annual basis, so we formed the 2030 Birddogs. This small group of architectural staff (around six participants), distributed between our Portland and Seattle offices and our Healthcare, Housing, and K-12 studios, partnered with each team to make sure the data submitted to the DDx was accurate and complete. In addition, during our office’s bi-annual project check-in with leadership we asked project teams to update an Energy Use Intensity Speedometer which built in accountability for the pEUI regularly, as shown below.

Where are We Now?

After 9 years of consistent pEUI data collection and using new tools like Tableau Public to better understand this data, we now have a detailed understanding of where we are in relation to the 2030 goal of carbon neutral buildings. Since 2013 we have annually increased our energy efficiency 4%, and since 2017 we have had an energy efficiency of greater than 50% – achieving a higher pEUI savings than the average AIA 2030 Commitment reporting firm. In 2019 our project’s pEUI savings was 56%. While this did not meet the 70% energy efficiency goal in 2019, if we extrapolate our historical improvements of 4% annually it is realistic that we can achieve 100% energy efficiency by 2030.

In 2020 we decided to analyze the 2019 pEUI data using Tableau Public. We created an interactive data visualization and found several compelling findings that highlighted some correlations and differences outlined in the 2018 Summary Report of the AIA 2030 Commitment, which currently represents the national average from reporting firms.

  1. We found that our new construction work was 19% more energy efficient than the national average while our renovation work was 19% less efficient than our new construction work. For example, Mahlum’s renovation work at a 45% reduction aligns with the 2018 report, but our new construction work at 64% is 19% more energy efficient than both our renovation work and the national average for new construction work.

  2. Our K-12 and Higher Ed work at a 55% reduction was slightly better than the 53% reduction in the 2018 Report. Our healthcare work at 48% reduction was on par with the Healthcare work in the 2018 Report, but 7% less efficient than our K-12 and Higher Ed work.

  3. Our energy modeled projects had a 58% reduction whereas our projects that were not energy modeled had a 42% reduction, a 16% delta. The 2018 Report notes a 25% delta between the two, a larger discrepancy between energy modeled and non-energy modeled projects.

  4. Our projects in Washington State have an average 62% reduction, while our Oregon work is a lower 46% reduction – a 16% delta. Our 2019 Washington State work was designed under the 2015 IECC with Washington State Amendments, which aligns with ASHRAE 90.1-2013 energy efficiencies. Our 2019 Oregon State work aligns with the 2014 OEESC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007 energy efficiencies. The National Impact of ASHRAE 90.1-2016 Report notes that the difference between 2007 and 2013 versions of 90.1 is 14%, making it close to the 16% difference we are seeing between our work in Washington and Oregon. With the new Oregon 2019 Zero Energy Ready Commercial Code implemented at the end of 2019 we expect to see our new Oregon projects in 2020 align with the energy efficiencies we have been seeing in Washington State for the past three years.

Below: Our pEUI Exploratory Dashboard for AIA 2030 Commitment 2019 Data created in Tableau Public.

How We Get to Carbon Neutral and Achieve the 2030 Challenge

  1. Focus on Renovation work. Even though our New Construction Work is performing significantly better, we will need to focus our efforts on renovation work to bring it up to the same energy efficiency levels as our new construction work.

  2. Energy Model all projects. Considering our energy modeled work is performing 16% better than our non-modeled work, we will advocate for all projects to use energy models during design to continue to build energy efficiency awareness.

  3. Focus on our lower efficiency Healthcare work. Since our Healthcare work is 7% less energy efficient than our other market sectors, we will need to transfer some of the energy efficiency strategies from our higher performing K-12 and Higher Ed work to our Healthcare work.

  4. Implement Washington State efficiency standards into our Oregon projects. With the new Oregon Zero Energy Ready Codes now in effect in 2020 we will take the lessons we learned complying with the Washington State energy codes to our Oregon work including continuous insulation above and below grade, reduction in thermal bridging, and tight air barriers. Now that the two state’s codes are more closely aligned, the efficiency of our Oregon projects should increase by 14%-16%.

  5. Measure & Collect Actual Energy Use Intensity (EUI). With inspirational efforts like the Seattle Energy Benchmarking Program which requires the public disclosure of EUI for buildings over 20,000sf on an interactive online map we have started to collect our own projects EUI to see if they align with our predictions during design.

  6. The Addition of PVs. The few projects we have to date that meet the 70% and 80% reduction targets of the 2030 challenge are really Net Zero Energy Ready, meaning that with a large PV Array they can achieve 100% net energy reduction aka Net Zero Energy. Most of our work at Mahlum is low rise construction and can handle large PV arrays on the roof, or Community Solar must be integrated to achieve Net Zero Energy.

  7. Embodied Carbon. The AIA 2030 Commitment signatories have been dedicated to focusing on operational energy and carbon impacts. Now that our buildings are more typically seeing high energy efficiencies it is even more important for us to focus on the embodied carbon and its impact on our climate – but that is for another post.

To 2030 and Beyond!

In the mid 90’s we started our sustainability journey with a handful of project specific goals to achieve LEED certification. Those goals have since snowballed into a firm-wide effort of accountability to our planet with the implementation of energy-efficiency and low-carbon goals into all our work. In 2020 we now have measurable data that shows us where we are in relation to the goals of the 2030 Challenge, and how much further we must go to get there.

When considering the daunting task in front of us we, as architects more aware than most of how distant carbon neutrality is, must remember the words Greta Thunberg spoke in September 2019, “You must take action. You must do the impossible, because giving up can never be an option.”