A Roof with a View

Brick LLP recently completed a 70,000 square foot building in Mountain View, Calif. that is on track to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The keystone of the project is a 13,000 square foot rooftop garden that Brick designed with landscape architect, Marcel Wilson of Bionic, and the roof – along with everything below it – is up for grabs. Nathan Donato-Weinstein, a real estate writer for the Silicon Valley Business Journal, has reported that Nuance Communications – who signed a 12-year lease in 2012 – has decided not to occupy the building right away and may be looking to sublease.

Brick founder and principal Rob Zirkle worked with developer Dan Minkoff to design a building that would attract attention in the competitive Silicon Valley market, which will serve them well now that potential tenants may again be eying the property.

“Dan really wanted to distinguish this project in the landscape of office development,” said Zirkle. “So sustainability became a big element, which led to the desire to do this green roof.”

In addition to the green roof, other sustainable features include low VOC products, bike storage, and a parking lot that need only accommodate 30 cars since the building is located 200 meters from the nearest Caltrain station.

“All of these things led to the roof being the icing on the cake,” said Zirkle. “It’s the marketing engine for achieving LEED Platinum and looks awesome,” to boot.

Because the design for the structure was planned before a tenant was named, Minkoff and Zirkle worked together to forecast how the building, including the roof garden, would be used.

They designed it so that, say, the CEO would have enough space to address a large group, but they also carved out smaller “seating pods” – articulated with steps – where a few employees might take their laptops to work on a group project, or work individually.

“In other areas we created something more suited for the evening, like intimate cocktails,” said Zirkle. “There’s a lawn and a bocce court, to encourage active recreation.”

Zirkle was careful to point out that the rooftop isn’t just a pretty face, so to speak – it’s smart, too.

“In California there are regulations about the treatment of storm water before it goes into salt water. On the roof, the plants filter the water before it gets released,” said Zirkle. “So in addition to looking good and adding to the experience, it’s functional and important from a sustainability aspect.”

“We’ve designed and manicured the natural landscape in a very particular way,” said Zirkle. “It all works together: the experience, and the more technical sustainability features, all in one.”

Boston based Sasaki Associates is now at work in the interior, with completion expected this spring.

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