The challenges are many: Poorly reinforced masonry. Nonexistent on-site parking. Inadequate electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems. A lack of wheelchair accessibility.
But rehabilitating the warehouse at 200 W. Broad St. in Boise into a cutting-edge office building for 90 workers gives Boise architecture firm CSHQA a chance to show customers that green technology works.
"We can't be true leaders in this aspect of design without putting it to the test," says Ted Isbell, the architect overseeing the project. "And, frankly, that was one of the reasons we chose to move: the opportunity to create something that is a showplace and a working laboratory for ideas like this."
Before the firm makes its move this summer, Isbell says, crews will overhaul the plumbing and electrical systems and install a 65-foot-long wheelchair ramp.
They've already torn out about 400 square feet of the original floor to make room for employee bicycle storage, a rear entrance and garbage and recycling bins.
Plans call for a series of energy-efficiency measures, including tubes in the floors that will circulate either cooled or geothermally heated liquid to control the temperature. A system of ducts will suck away heat generated by workers' computers and move it to a central location, where it can be exhausted outside the building in hot weather or redistributed through the heating system in cold.
High-efficiency light fixtures and 14 skylights will help the renovated building achieve the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating, CSHQA says.
CSHQA also plans to reconfigure the parking area on Broad Street in front of the building to offer eight or nine diagonal spaces, Isbell says. That project will include a permeable-pavement system that allows water to seep through the joints between blocks of pavement and downward through a filtering system of a few different types and sizes of gravel.
The estimated price tag on the renovation, overseen by Jordon Wilcomb Construction, is $2 million.
Even the go-ahead for the project required some outside-the-box negotiations. The Ada County Highway District had to sign off on plans for the wheelchair ramp, which will extend five feet into the district's right-of-way. CSHQA needed a conditional use permit from the city because office buildings typically require on-site parking, and the warehouse consumes the entire parcel.
Boise city planner David Moser says the firm satisfactorily addressed the parking problem by formulating a plan to encourage employees to carpool, ride bikes or take the bus to work. Despite irregularities, he says, this project will improve the neighborhood around it by filling an existing building that's been vacant for years.
One piece of good news for CSHQA is that the warehouse hasn't deteriorated too badly, Isbell says.
"And the other good thing is it wasn't compromised by substandard remodels where somebody half-turned it into office space in the '60s or something, or blocked in all the windows or did something to really adversely affect it," he says. "It was still really kind of an authentic warehouse building."
Sven Berg: 377-6275